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Service Work Beaurocracy Orientened Customer

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Service sectors are dominant parts of the major capitalist economies. The rapid growth of this sector in the middle of the 20th century led to inevitable changes in the overall long-term composition of demand in capitalist economies.

We are going to see through this summary how can the service sector works nowadays.

The first part will be about the concept of the costumer oriented bureaucracy (“Human Resource Management in the service sector”, Korczynski) and the second part will talk about the role of empowerment and collaboration in the service industry (“Service management: an integrated approach”, Bart Van Looy, Paul Gemmel & Roland Van Dierdonck)

1. The costumer oriented bureaucracy

It is important in a first step to define precisely the costumer. In one side, it is crucial to consider the level of analysis at which costumer is being analyzed, are we talking about an increasingly informed body of consumer or about an individual consumer. In the other side it’s also important to take in consideration the degree to which costumers are formally rational or formally irrational. In most of the literacy of the 20th century the author place customers on one side or another. But a more appropriate view is one which sees dualism within costumers.

Now the discussion turns to focus upon the costumer within the specific context of front-line service work. It’s interesting to study the interaction between costumer of service organization.

The first to study this link is Parasuraman who focused on creating a generic model to measure the customer satisfaction regarding to the quality of service interaction. This five-factor model called SERVQUAL is about 5 dimensions of the service quality: reliability, responsiveness, tangibles, assurance and empathy. This model can reflex the duality between rational and irrational part of the consumers. In this approach the costumer as a strong empowerment over the service company.

Opposite to the above approach, in front-line work the organization must deal directly with individual customers, and in this situation, the power shifts strongly to the producing organization. Service organization are in a strong position to directly determine customers’ behavior in service interactions. Two key factors limit this power over the consumers: the dynamic created by competition that let the costumer thinking that he will be treated like a king, and the incongruity that would be experienced by the costumer when he will enter in the store and will be suddenly dictated to.

Service organizations seek to reconcile this by subtly attempting to direct costumer behavior while also attempting to ensure that the costumer feels that they are in charge.

“Any action which increases the self-esteem of the costumer will raise the level of satisfaction” (Lynch, 1992)

But this enchantment is hard to maintain when the bureaucratic inflexible routines of the production organization intrude upon the service interaction.

This problem is described in the concept of customer-oriented bureaucracy.

This concept captures the requirement for the organization to be both formally rational, to respond to the competitive pressures, and to be formally irrational, to enchant particularly through the perpetuation of the enchanting myth of costumer sovereignty. This is the key tension of contemporary service work.

The employees must maintain the enchanting myth of costumer sovereignty but the must do this efficiently and as quick as possible.

Regarding to this concept Human Resource Management has a big role to play in two levels.

First, it can be used to promote the dual-focuses worker behavior that is required, through it use of rhetoric. Human Resource Management lies not so much in tis substantive content but rather in the language and symbols it uses and the effect these have on the workforce. The language of teamwork is stressed, since this suggests working together towards a shared goal. Manager can present costumer orientation as a shared value.

Management can also use the win: win: win Human Resource Management rhetoric.

Second, it can offer a range of approaches to cope with the inevitable ensuing tensions. Human Resource Management can contribute to the maintenance of the fragile social order in the front-line workplace by carefully controlling and limiting the manifestations of tensions.

Another management approach based on avoiding tensions is to create a fun atmosphere in the workplace.

A key aspect of a bureaucracy is its complex division of work based on the goal of maximizing the efficiency of task completion.

The enchanting myth of sovereignty is more likely to be achieved if the maintenance of costumer relationship is a guiding principle for the division of labor.

In the costumer-oriented bureaucracy, authority derives from rational-legal authority but also from the costumer.

In a bureaucracy, control rests primarily upon measurement of outputs and of process behaviors’ in the case of customer-oriented bureaucracy, the organization must accept that front-line workers, may have to go beyond predesigned procedures.

Regarding the affect in the model of the costumer-oriented bureaucracy, it’s required to deliver rationalized emotional labor. Management desires positive emotions expressed to the costumers, especially empathy to allow an easy consumption of the enchanting myth of sovereignty.

In this concept the production line approach focused on the external environment of costumer. The organization must seek to be flexible to cope with this unpredictable environment.

This variable is kind of unpredictable and the role of the manager is to attempt to construct a fragile social order. There seem to be two main way to do this in this situation.

Seek to reduce the uncertainty by increasing the predictability of changes in customer demand.

Or turn the labor force for flexibility in numerical term of functional term. This solution is the most used.

But this systematic labor-stretching may lead to increased turnover, increasing dissent to customers and to managers.

In customer-oriented bureaucracy the consumer is not just an economic actor but also a social actor because the service interaction between the front-line worker and costumer is a social interaction. The socially embedded customer has important implications for



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