IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


  • Andrew Sturdy
  • Peter Fleming


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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/15191 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:4:p:753-773. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.