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Organizing Moves in Software Support Hot Lines

Brian T. Pentland
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 37, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 527-548
DOI: 10.2307/2393471
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393471
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Organizing Moves in Software Support Hot Lines
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Abstract

This paper introduces the concept of the "move" as a unit of analysis in technical service interactions and uses it as the basis for a theory of organizational knowledge. Data from six months of participant observation at two software support hot lines were analyzed inductively to identify a core set of moves with which technical support specialists respond to customer calls. When a specialist cannot respond to a call alone, he or she has to get help from others or give the call away. The moves specialists use in these situations both reflect and enact the structure of the organization: transferring a call reflects division of labor, escalating a call reflects hierarchy, and so on. By allowing the technical support staff to accomplish work collectively they could not do individually, organizing moves embody the distinctively organizational aspect of the collective performance. If we adopt a pragmatic definition of knowledge as situated performance rather than abstract representation, then organizing moves are a logical foundation for a theory of organizational knowledge.

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