A Comparison Of Private And Public Sector Performance

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Barbara Caemmerer
Alistair Dewar


Cross-Sectoral Comparison, Service Quality, Service Satisfaction, SERVQUAL


In the past, public sector organizations have been used as examples of service atrocities – but in light of unstable overall customer satisfaction levels across countries and industries the purpose of this research note is to investigate whether their private counterparts fare much better in terms of service performance. A quantitative, quasi-experimental study was carried out with 200 respondents. The survey tool was based on the SERVQUAL framework to compare recipients’ service expectations and perceptions in private and public service settings. The results reveal no significant differences between expectations towards and perceptions of private and public services. The traditional SERVQUAL dimensions explain 74% of overall satisfaction in the public, and 87% in the private sector. As this is a cross-sectional study more research is necessary to understand whether the results are due to an amelioration in the public and a deterioration in the private sector, or vice versa, or neither. The study stimulates debate and further research into the underlying reasons for customers’ similar expectations and perceptions across sectors. Is actual service performance across sectors assimilating? Or do perceptions in one sector setting impact on expectations and perceptions in another?


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