Service-operations research ranked third

The Carlson school research was only beat out by Columbia University and MIT.

Courtney Sinner

The Production and Operations Management Journal recently recognized the University as the nation’s No. 3 research institution for service operations management.

The department is in the Carlson School of Management, which finished just behind those at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Individual contributors were also recognized, and three Carlson School professors made the top 27.

Service operations researchers test the efficiency of behind-the-scenes work done by organizations like hotels, banks and hospitals to make sure the employees and consumers are happy.

Susan Meyer Goldstein, an associate professor in the Carlson School, said service operations aren’t something the average person pays attention to – until something goes wrong.

She said the research of these professors helps to prevent those upheavals.

Goldstein was recognized as one of the nation’s top contributors for her research in the field.

“For example, you don’t see what your bank is doing,” Goldstein said. “But if they mess everything up and don’t put the credit to the right checks, you’d have a pretty miserable experience.”

She said while keeping the consumer happy is part of the job, it’s not all about customer service.

“It’s really balancing their efficiency and controlling their costs,” she said, “but also making sure their services are effective in satisfying the needs that customers have.”

Professor Arthur Hill ranked highest of the Carlson School professors at No. 8.

He said the Carlson School is unique in its research because it started before most institutions.

“We, the Carlson school, were the first at the table in some of this research,” Hill said. “I did my doctorate dissertation on banking operations. Everybody else was still thinking about factories.”

The historical shift from manufacturing to service operations is why the research is becoming more important.

“We live in a world where we don’t spend a lot of time in factories,” Hill said, “but we spend a lot of time at McDonald’s and at the hospital and at the University.”

Goldstein said service operations are something that will continue to be an issue.

“So much of our economy has shifted towards services,” she said. “(Service operation) is a balance between art and science.”

Gregory Heim, now an associate professor at Texas A&M’s Mays College of Business, did research on e-commerce for his doctorate at the Carlson School in 2000.

“It’s very rare to have that many people in one department that are actively focused on service operations,” Heim said. “It’s a critical mass and it allows you to have some pretty influential contributions.”

Goldstein said she was glad the recognition spotlighted people doing current and relevant work, and also hoped it would result in more research opportunities.

“A lot of the research money we get at the University is competed for nationally,” she said. “I think this recognition will hopefully put us on the map as big national players in service operations research.”