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Work organization, technology, and performance in customer service and sales

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  • Rosemary Batt
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    Abstract

    The author analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of Total Quality Management and Self-Managed Teams, as compared to mass production approaches to service delivery, among customer service and sales workers in a large unionized regional Bell operating company. Participation in self-managed teams was associated with a statistically significant improvement in self-reported service quality and a 9.3% increase in sales per employee. When combined with new technology, teams boosted sales an additional 17.4%. These effects persisted over time. Total Quality Management, by contrast, did not affect performance. This study represents a "strong test" of the efficacy of teams because theory predicts weak outcomes for self-managed teams among service and sales employees in establishments where technology and organizational structure limit opportunities for self-regulation, the nature of work and technology do not require interdependence, and downsizing creates pervasive job insecurity-conditions found at the company studied here. (Abstract courtesy JSTOR.)

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

    Volume (Year): 52 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 539-564

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    Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:52:y:1999:i:4:p:539-564

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    Cited by:
    1. Shaw, Kathryn, 2009. "Insider econometrics: A roadmap with stops along the way," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 607-617, December.
    2. Grant, Adam M. & Campbell, Elizabeth M. & Chen, Grace & Cottone, Keenan & Lapedis, David & Lee, Karen, 2007. "Impact and the art of motivation maintenance: The effects of contact with beneficiaries on persistence behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 53-67, May.
    3. Neumark, David & Reed, Deborah, 2004. "Employment relationships in the new economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, February.
    4. Jones, Derek & Kato, Takao, 2007. "The Impact of Teams on Output, Quality and Downtime: An Empirical Analysis Using Individual Panel Data," Working Papers, Department of Economics, Colgate University 104-24, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
    5. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2004. "Using "Insider Econometrics" to Study Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 217-223, May.
    6. Sharda, Kirti, . "Back to the Drawing Board: Exploring Gestalts of Work Design in BPO Firms," IIMA Working Papers, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department WP2011-02-04, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    7. Kato, Takao & Shu, Pian, 2008. "Performance Spillovers and Social Network in the Workplace: Evidence from Rural and Urban Weavers in a Chinese Textile Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 3340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Hiroyuki Chuma & Takao Kato & Isao Ohashi, 2004. "What Japanese Workers Want: Evidence from the Japanese Worker Representation and Participation Survey," Discussion papers, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) 04019, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    9. Bauer, Thomas K. & Bender, Stefan, 2004. "Technological change, organizational change, and job turnover," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 265-291, June.
    10. Cottini, Elena & Kato, Takao & WestergĂĄrd-Nielsen, Niels C., 2009. "Adverse Workplace Conditions, High-Involvement Work Practices and Labor Turnover: Evidence from Danish Linked Employer-Employee Data," IZA Discussion Papers 4587, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Brent Boning & Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2001. "Opportunity Counts: Teams and the Effectiveness of Production Incentives," NBER Working Papers 8306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jed Devaro & Fidan Ana Kurtulus, 2011. "What types of organizations benefit from teams, and how do they benefit?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2011-16, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    13. Thang, Le Chien & Rowley, Chris & Quang, Truong & Warner, Malcolm, 2007. "To what extent can management practices be transferred between countries?: The case of human resource management in Vietnam," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 113-127, March.
    14. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
    15. D Cassidy & J Sutherland, 2008. "Going Absent, Then Just Going? A Case Study Examination of Absence and Quitting," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, Economic Issues, vol. 13(2), pages 1-20, September.

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