The feasibility of modularity in professional service design: Towards low cost person-centred care

Monique Roelien van der Laan


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A challenge facing many professional service organizations, and especially healthcare institutes, is how to meet the heterogeneous and complex demands of customers while, at the same time, minimizing costs. Recently, attention has been drawn to the managerial concept of modularity as a means of providing low-cost person-centred variety. However, only limited conceptual clarity exists as to what constitutes a module in a service offering and how to appropriately design a modular professional service offering. This thesis starts with a theoretical analysis of the literature seeking conceptual clarity on service modularity, and identifies six ways to decompose a service offering into modules. Subsequently, a two-stage design process for service modularity is described. The first step involved a segmentation study in the healthcare sector that used a finite mixture model to group older adults into five segments based on their experienced biopsychosocial needs. In the second step, a multidisciplinary group of professionals, using the results of the person-centred segmentation study, developed a set of care and service modules. Finally, in a multiple case study, various modular professional service architectures were identified, each with its own merits. This final element highlighted the role of interfaces in modular design as well as boundaries to applying modularity in professional services. In explicating the underlying central design choices, I stress that modular service design is not something that ‘just happens’ or slowly evolves. This thesis demonstrates the influence of design choices made within a modular design on how person-centred variety and costs are balanced.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Ahaus, C, Supervisor
  • Slaets, Joris, Supervisor
  • Broekhuis, Manda, Co-supervisor
  • van Offenbeek, Marjolein, Co-supervisor
Datum van toekenning25-jun.-2015
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
Gedrukte ISBN's978-90-367-7954-8
Elektronische ISBN's978-90-367-7953-1
StatusPublished - 2015


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