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Work Organization, Technology, and Performance in Customer Service and Sales

Rosemary Batt
ILR Review
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Jul., 1999), pp. 539-564
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/2525063
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2525063
Page Count: 26
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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.
Work Organization, Technology, and Performance in Customer Service and Sales
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Abstract

The author analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of Total Quality Management and Self-Managed Teams, as compared to mass production approaches to service delivery, among customer service and sales workers in a large unionized regional Bell operating company. Participation in self-managed teams was associated with a statistically significant improvement in self-reported service quality and a 9.3% increase in sales per employee. When combined with new technology, teams boosted sales an additional 17.4%. These effects persisted over time. Total Quality Management, by contrast, did not affect performance. This study represents a "strong test" of the efficacy of teams because theory predicts weak outcomes for self-managed teams among service and sales employees in establishments where technology and organizational structure limit opportunities for self-regulation, the nature of work and technology do not require interdependence, and downsizing creates pervasive job insecurity-conditions found at the company studied here.

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