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

Posted: 12 Jun 1999

See all articles by Rosemary Batt

Rosemary Batt

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations

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. In combination with new technology, teams boosted sales 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.

JEL Classification: J53, J54

Suggested Citation

Batt, Rosemary, Work Organization, Technology, and Performance in Customer Service and Sales. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, July 1999, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=156358

Rosemary Batt (Contact Author)

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-254-4437 (Phone)
607-255-1836 (Fax)

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