The rapid rise of global services during the last few decades is without doubt one of the most challenging social, cultural, political and, especially, economic forces in almost all countries in the world. It has been the outcome of the combined influences of the decline of the more traditional agricultural and manufacturing sectors; the development of new technologies including telecommunications, information technology, nano-technology, and biotechnology; and changes in the expectations of consumers.
While in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, China and India services are a major economic and social influence, other regional nations are (to varying degrees) dependent on them for their very survival. In Singapore, for example, the absence of physical resources and disproportionately high education levels has ensured the economic dominance of services, and Thailand's tourism sector has long exceeded rice production as an export income earner.
The multifaceted nature of services has spawned a broad range of opportunities and challenges for their strategic management, including the delineation of their parameters; analyses of their broad global contexts; determination of their ‘stakeholders’; the definition and quantification of ‘service’ dimensions, qualities and measures; and the applications of all of these issues to their integrated management functions, including marketing, operations, financial and human resource management.