UCL School of Management

Research seminar

Creating Reciprocal Value Through Operational Transparency


Ryan Buell, Harvard Business School


Wednesday, 16 September 2015
1500 – 1630

Although operational transparency has been shown to improve consumer perceptions of service value, existing theory posits that increased contact between consumers and producers may diminish work performance. Two field and two laboratory experiments in food service settings suggest transparency that 1) allows customers to observe operational processes (process transparency) and 2) allows employees to observe customers (customer transparency) not only improves customer perceptions, but also increases service quality and efficiency. In our fully specified models, the introduction of this transparency contributed to a 22.2% increase in customer-reported quality and reduced throughput times by 19.2%. Laboratory studies revealed that customers who experienced process transparency perceived greater employee effort, were more appreciative of the employees, and valued the service more. Employees who experienced customer transparency felt that their work was more appreciated and more impactful, and thus were more satisfied with their work and more willing to exert effort. We find that transparency, by visually revealing operating processes to consumers and beneficiaries to producers, generates a positive feedback loop through which value is created for both parties.


Open to
Executive Education: Project Management
All students
Last updated Wednesday, 16 September 2015