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Talk as Technique - A Critique of the Words and Deeds Distinction in the Diffusion of Customer Service Cultures in Call Centres

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  • Andrew Sturdy
  • Peter Fleming

Abstract

This paper critically explores the common distinction made between words and deeds (or ideas and techniques) in the diffusion of management knowledge literature. The concern with whether management ideas are "really" being implemented in an organizational context intuitively points to the possibility of a contrast between simply talking about a practice or 'hype' and practical implementation. Drawing on empirical research on the diffusion of customer service culture in two call centres where 'verbal labour' predominates, it is argued that this distinction is important, but overdrawn. Eschewing discursive reductionism, the concepts of 'talk in work' and 'talk about work' are developed to illustrate how talk can be a technique of implementation in its own right. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2003.

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  • Andrew Sturdy & Peter Fleming, 2003. "Talk as Technique - A Critique of the Words and Deeds Distinction in the Diffusion of Customer Service Cultures in Call Centres," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 753-773, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:4:p:753-773
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