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Portraits of Call Centre Employees: Understanding control and identity work

Frandsen, Sanne LU (2015) In Tamara Journal 13(3). p.5-19
Abstract
This paper examines how employees respond to managements’ conflicting use of technocratic forms of control to ensure efficiency and socio-ideological control to produce an ‘on brand’ employee identity. The paper proposes a portrait-based form of ethnography as a way to illustrate both commonalities and differences in employees’ identity work and responses to managerial control within the call centre setting. The findings show that cynical distancing – and subtle enactment of the service brand – grows out of simultaneous embracing of and distancing from the contested work role. The study extends the concept of cynical distance as well as advances our understanding of how the tandem of socio-ideological and technocratic control may work... (More)
This paper examines how employees respond to managements’ conflicting use of technocratic forms of control to ensure efficiency and socio-ideological control to produce an ‘on brand’ employee identity. The paper proposes a portrait-based form of ethnography as a way to illustrate both commonalities and differences in employees’ identity work and responses to managerial control within the call centre setting. The findings show that cynical distancing – and subtle enactment of the service brand – grows out of simultaneous embracing of and distancing from the contested work role. The study extends the concept of cynical distance as well as advances our understanding of how the tandem of socio-ideological and technocratic control may work through employees’ cynical distancing. Finally, the paper argues for more nuanced insights into the identity work of call centre employees to fully understand negative but also positive consequences of managerial control in this specific setting. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Portraits, Management control, Identity work, Cynical distance, Call Centre
in
Tamara Journal
volume
13
issue
3
pages
5 - 19
publisher
Kozminski University
ISSN
1532-5555
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
5ec868f6-ec5a-465e-b8e9-b7203f85aabc (old id 8194863)
date added to LUP
2015-11-18 16:14:08
date last changed
2016-04-15 16:44:00
@article{5ec868f6-ec5a-465e-b8e9-b7203f85aabc,
  abstract     = {This paper examines how employees respond to managements’ conflicting use of technocratic forms of control to ensure efficiency and socio-ideological control to produce an ‘on brand’ employee identity. The paper proposes a portrait-based form of ethnography as a way to illustrate both commonalities and differences in employees’ identity work and responses to managerial control within the call centre setting. The findings show that cynical distancing – and subtle enactment of the service brand – grows out of simultaneous embracing of and distancing from the contested work role. The study extends the concept of cynical distance as well as advances our understanding of how the tandem of socio-ideological and technocratic control may work through employees’ cynical distancing. Finally, the paper argues for more nuanced insights into the identity work of call centre employees to fully understand negative but also positive consequences of managerial control in this specific setting.},
  author       = {Frandsen, Sanne},
  issn         = {1532-5555},
  keyword      = {Portraits,Management control,Identity work,Cynical distance,Call Centre},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {5--19},
  publisher    = {Kozminski University},
  series       = {Tamara Journal},
  title        = {Portraits of Call Centre Employees: Understanding control and identity work},
  volume       = {13},
  year         = {2015},
}