Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Towards Knowledge-Customer Centered Services?

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Towards Knowledge-Customer Centered Services?

Article excerpt

This special edition on work and services is timely. Currently, the Australian Parliament House Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration is conducting an inquiry in to the current and future directions of Australia's service industries. A distinctive feature of economic change over the past two decades is the exponential growth in services. The Austrade submission to the House of Representatives inquiry suggests that services accounts for 77.9% of Australia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 84.1% of employment, and 22.8% of exports (Austrade Submission, August 2006). The growth in services related activities are also significant growing around 3-4 % per annum in Australia (Austrade Submission, August 2006) and around 2-3% in New Zealand (New Zealand Treasury Economic and Financial Overview, 2002). Government interest in the impact of services on economy has been patchy. The dominance of agricultural and resource industries in Australia has generally shielded greater attention on the role of services in public policy debates. A significant exception was the establishment of the Service Industries Research Program in 1993 (Department of Industry, Technology and Regional Development and the Australian Coalition of Services Industries Inc) that produced a series of interesting commissioned research reports on different slices of the services sector.

The literature on services is vast, and growing constantly in divergent directions. Definitional issues continue to dominate our theorizing of the nature and direction of change and a few trends become noticeable. Historically, and reflecting the strength of technological explanations, early writers such as Bright (1958) and Woodward (1965) saw the machine-product relationship and the characteristics of the overall production process as key elements in understanding technology and work. Emphasis was on the degree of variability of the production processes, plus the type of knowledge-base utilised, that defined different production contexts and characteristics. Industrial sociology was concerned with the impact of automation on working conditions and the working experience (Blauner, 1964) and speculation about future occupational directions (Bell, 1973; Gershuny and Miles, 1983). These early perspectives saw the impact of managerial strategy as benign. However, by the early 1970's, new perspectives began to emerge. First, were the debates sparked by the publication of Braverman's 'Labour and Monopoly Capital' in 1974 that heralded a major debate about long-term trends in work under capitalism, focusing on the role of scientific management in contributing to a deskilling 'dynamic' which redefined managerial control over the labour process (Littler, 1982; Edwards, 1979). From a different vantage point, Levitt (1976) also wrote about the nature of change and the industrialisation of services. Both saw technology as a key strategy for restructuring service work by narrowing work tasks, reducing autonomy and discretion. The second wave of research emanated from the debate started by Braverman, that launched a vigorous set of debates about the future of work, which represented the critical labour process perspective - focusing on the role of deskilling and managerial control (Braverman, 1974; Friedman, 1977; Edwards, 1979). This research eventually blossomed into a wide ranging critical examination of the capitalist labour process (Littler, 1982; Littler and Salaman, 1982; Littler, 1990; Knights and Willmott, 1990).

A derivation of the second wave was evident in Ritzer's 1993 book 'The McDonaldisation of Society' which attempted to update Braverman's early ideas and redefined Weberian notions of structure and control in the context of a modern consumer society. According to Ritzer, the organisation of contemporary work reflected a series of rationalisation processes that commenced with Taylorism - culminating in the 'McDonaldisation' of contemporary Western work culture. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.