Examining 911 services also provides a glimpse into the challenges (and types of data) which are necessary for accurate measurement of productivity in the service sector. In particular, service sector productivity measurement must incorporate the quality of the activity (such as timeliness) as well as whether the services received by the customer are responsive to his idiosyncratic characteristics (in this case, different patients experience different diagnoses and different degrees of severity of illness). By developing and analyzing a novel dataset, we are able to provide evidence about both of these factors (in this case, timely response and allocation of patients to appropriate hospitals). Of course, we are not the first to evaluate multiple attributes of a service provided. However, our analysis is further able to connect these measures of quality to a well-defined overall service outcome measure, mortality.
Finally, a more careful understanding of the production structure of services is an important first step towards analyzing the nature of strategic interactions between service providers. For example, the extent to which firms can influence their market share through overinvestment in technology and wasteful business-stealing activities will depend in part on the importance of customized service and the quality of the match between consumer characteristics and firm investments. These considerations might have implications for the regulation and management of service industries.