Purpose: As service organizations move toward the open system strategic customer orientation, they need to ensure consistency among competitive methods, performance measures and strategies utilized. This paper aims to examine the relationships among these important facets of today’s service organizations. The study at hand examines the relationship among competitive methods, implicit strategy and performance measures used by Portuguese service organizations. Design/methodology/approach: This research uses a survey-based methodology. Factor analysis, cluster analysis and regression analysis procedures are used to analyze the collected data from Portuguese service organizations. Findings: Based on the results of this study, it appears that some of the studied service organizations are steadily moving toward the open system mode of strategy, competitive methods and performance measurement. However, the majority of the service organizations examined appeared to be in a state of strategic confusion, as they appear to lack the consistency among competitive methods, performance measures and desired strategic orientations. Research limitations/implications: The sample used in this study is specific in nature, as it includes only Portuguese service organizations. Therefore, the results of this study should be interpreted with caution. Future research in other cultural service settings is recommended. Such research should emphasize the exploration of theoretical frameworks, which tend to practically integrate competitive methods, performance measures and strategic orientation. Practical implications: This study has direct practical implications for service managers, as they attempt to integrate their organizational systems. As such, the research in this study paves the way toward the practical integration and consistency among competitive methods, performance measures and strategic orientations needed to enhance the customer orientation. In this context, such integration and consistency are essential to enhance the strategic competitiveness of today’s service organizations operating in a dynamic marketplace. Originality/value: This research combines bodies of knowledge dealing with competitive methods, performance measures and their impact on strategic orientations. The conceptual framework offered in this research attempts to facilitate the understanding for consistent practice pertaining to the competitiveness of the open system service organization in a dynamic environment. Such consistency is essential to the competitiveness of the organization in a dynamic environment. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.