Towards a typology of structural arrangements for shared services: evidence from the higher education sector
Shared services are increasingly prevalent in practice, their introduction potentially entailing substantive and highly consequential organizational redesign. Yet, attention to the structural arrangements of shared services has been limited. This study explores types of structural arrangements for shared services that are observed in practice, and the salient dimensions along which those types can be usefully differentiated. Through inductive attention to the shared services literature, and content analysis of 36 secondary case studies of shared services in the higher education sector, three salient dimensions emerged: (1) the existence or not of a separate organizational entity, (2) an intra- or inter-organizational sharing boundary, and (3) involvement or not of a third party. Each dimension being dichotomous yields 23 combinations, or eight shared services structural arrangement types. Each of the eight structural arrangement types is defined and demonstrated through case examples. The typology offers clarity around shared services structural arrangements. It can serve as a useful analytical tool for researchers investigating the phenomenon further, and for practitioners considering the introduction or further development of shared services arrangements. Important follow on research is suggested too.