The internationalization process in professional business service firms: some tentative conclusions
The participants in the conference all stressed the importance of under standing the distinctions between ‘goods’ and ‘services’. Despite much effort, these distinctions are still not very clear. Many of the services are embodied in goods but are also sold separately. Design activities is one example. A designer may work as an independent. Alternatively, a designer may be an employee of a firm. In the first case, the work will be recorded as a ‘service’, in the second as ‘goods’. This point is repeatedly made by different authors and many attempts have been made to offer different definitions of services and to draw boundaries between goods and services. Stigler’s observation from 1956 that there seems to be ‘no authoritative consensus on either the boundaries or classification of the services industries’ (Stigler 1956: 47) still holds true. (For a summary of the many definitions and classifications, see Gronroos (1990: 26-35).) Moreover, the exact definition of a profession still has to be agreed on. Yet it is generally agreed that we live in a service society and that the rules of this society have to be understood.