There is strong pressure to achieve greater uniformity, standardisation and application of best practices in the service professions, a sector which is growing in presence and importance. At the same time, there is a conflicting demand for the delivery of high-quality (or highly priced or 'knowledge intensive') specialised or localised services. Our paper analyses information systems enabled standardising of service work through an in-depth interpretative study of an ongoing standardisation initiative within the field of nursing. Nursing provides a graphic illustration of the dilemmas involved in the standardisation of service work. In nursing, standardisation is commonly a feature of projects to improve both efficiency and quality in health care. In contrast to the dominant conception of standardisation as a largely top-down, imposed process, we offer a view of standardisation as incomplete, co-constructed with users and with significant unintended consequences. The paper contributes by i) developing a theoretical perspective for the standardisation of information-system-embedded service work and ii) operational and practical implications for system design and health care management. Running head: Standardisation of work: co-constructed practice.
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