Service Quality in the Public Sector: Seoul Service Index
Youjae Yi, Suna La
Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research
Recent trends in public administration emphasize quality management, citizen orientation and performance results (Alford 2002; Heinrich 2002; Kadiret al. 2000; Laszlo 1997; Rowley 1998; Wisniewski 2001). Korea is not the exception. For example, Seoul City, the capital city of Korea, has assessed citizen satisfaction annually since 1996 and it has reported the survey results to the public via mass media. Seoul City has offered monetary incentives to the several top organizations by using the citizen satisfaction scores every year.

However, the annual citizen satisfaction survey has its limitations since it has been used like a beauty contest. The survey measures, for instance, could hardly assess the citizen's long-term attitude toward a certain public service or provide information about the quality dimensions requiring improvement. It is difficult to compare sub-indices across industries because of inconsistent measures. Thus, there is a need for more appropriate criteria for public service quality which will provide accurate analyses of status quo, suggest ways for effective improvement, and capture the relationship between service quality and city performance from a macro perspective. We also need a system that allows one to compare indices, dimension scores, and component scores across industries. On this background, we have developed a new model of service quality in the public sector and named the model as Seoul Service Index (SSI).

There are several objectives in developing a new quality model for the public service sector. First, the model should facilitate broad understanding and easy adoption for an immediate institutionalization of the quality management system in the public sector in Seoul. Second, we need a model that guides the way of obtaining the world-class public service of Seoul City by considering various international quality criteria. Third, the model should be useful as an instrument for diagnosing and solving the quality problems for each public service organization by developing internal indices for organizations as well as external ones for their customers (citizens). Fourth, the model should give a comprehensive view by integrating relationships among internal quality management, citizen's perceived quality, and macro results of city performance.