The traditional model of service operations separates the process into front and back stages. This concept has been re-examined and given a range of new industrial applications in recent years against the context of development of new technologies. This paper intends to generalize the logic path of the theory development of this concept by tracing back from its origins to its more recent applications. That is, the designing core of de-coupling concept has evolved from single-operation-purpose to alleviation of operation dilemma to the complete solution to the dilemma. Based on this analysis and understanding of the perceived shortcomings in current research a new theoretical framework is proposed to help further studies on de-coupling principles by systematically incorporating the mass customization concepts which has been regarded as the key to resolve the dilemma in traditional operations management.
Key words: Front and back stage de-coupling, customer contact, mass customization, modularization, postponement.
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