تضادهای CRM - یک لنز بحرانی در مراکز تماس
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|864||2006||26 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Information and Organization, Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2006, Pages 56–81
This paper aims to explore the contradictions of CRM systems and their use in call centres and in doing so contribute to the literature on critical information systems research. By invoking a critical perspective our analysis shows significant contradictions between system objectives and outcomes in practice. With reference to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, a sociologist and critical social theorist, we highlight the powerful theoretical lens that his work can provide for information systems researchers. Using an empirical study, which draws upon Bourdieu’s key concepts of field, habitus, logic of practice and symbolic violence, we illustrate how these processes of contradiction operate at the local level in the context of the field.
Since the advent of information and communication technologies (ICTs), stories abound relating to the transformation of work arising as a result of the application and use of such technologies. A recent example of this so-called transformation is the setting of call centre work, specialised offices that have been established by organizations with the intention of delivering a range of services to customers over the telephone. Employees or agents1 spend their time in near constant contact with customers, making or receiving calls and processing the information. These call centres utilise a range of ICTs which are seen to maximise efficiency and productivity (Belt et al., 2002). Call centres are often portrayed as knowledge intensive working environments employing skilled, semi-professional workers recruited for their strong interpersonal skills (Frenkel et al., 1998). Yet despite these positive images, call centres are often fraught with contradictions. The objective of this paper is to explore these contradictions and oppositional tendencies in our analysis of CRM in call centres, by invoking a critical perspective to help understand the context of the field and the response of the social agents within the field. In order to aid our critical analysis we will use the conceptual tools provided by Pierre Bourdieu. The critical social theory of Bourdieu provides intellectual foundations useful in the critique of information systems and organizational research where individuals are often marginalized (Alvesson & Deetz, 2000), as is often the case in call centre employment. Bourdieu shows appreciation of the dialectical relationship between the individual and the world they inhabit. He discusses the unity and regularity of systems and their practical coherence on the one hand, yet also describes their ‘fuzziness’ and irregularities on the other. Both of these elements are equally necessary and inscribed into what he terms the logic of practice (Bourdieu, 1990). This is an important aspect to consider when looking at CRM system use-often embedded in notions of transformation, in terms of organizations in a global knowledge economy, of new ways of working, and of virtuality central to communication amongst ‘stakeholders’. The paper shall proceed by firstly outlining the research objectives. We shall then introduce the environmental context and the nature of call centre work. Following this, Bourdieu’s key concepts of field, habitus, logic of practice and symbolic violence and their roles in the ‘circuit of reproduction’ (Bourdieu, 1990) will be discussed. These concepts are then applied to the empirical material arising from the field study. Finally, conclusions are drawn that stress the important contribution that the ‘theoretical scaffolding’ (Walsham, 2001) of Bourdieu and – more generally – empirically-based critical research has made to the study of organizational practice in the context of information systems research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
To summarise, this paper makes a contribution to IS research in a number of ways. Firstly, it uses a mobile field study to illustrate the contradictions in the use of CRM systems in call centres, focussing on the construction of the field at the local level, and considering how this is shaped by and also shapes the response of the social agents. By specifically drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu we have been provided with conceptual tools of analysis to help us understand the complex historical and cultural factors involved in the social relations of information systems use. This comes through analysis of the competing fields, understanding of the role of habitus, noting contradictions apparent through the application of symbolic violence as a mode of domination, and how the relationships between structures and agencies involved manifest themselves in the logic of practice. In these terms a clear motivation for this research has been to highlight the contradictions between CRM rhetoric and the reality for call centre workers on the ‘frontline’. It aims to let their stories be heard. By using the theoretical framework of Bourdieu, we have highlighted the contradictions and tensions that exist in call centre work and how these are played out by the agents in their habitus. Call centres, as a form of organization and of organizing, provide us with an interesting illustration of the problematic rhetoric of the transformatory potential of ICTs and enable us to unpack how this is played out in situ. In this respect, this study also contributes to a broader literature, which questions the totalising accounts of grand, epochal change, regardless of context (du Gay, 2003). Secondly, this research contributes to the development of a critical IS research literature. Critical IS research has often been criticised for being too theoretical and having a distinct lack of field experience. This small empirical study hopes to make a small contribution to addressing this limitation and aims to add to the gradually increasing body of critical IS literature. It also hopes to illustrate how a critical lens can be applied in practice, and the contribution it provides in exposing contradictory practices and structures. In this respect, critical IS research overcomes the limitations of positivist research, with its rejection of the unitary model of organizations and the technologically determinist view of information technology; it also overcomes some of the weaknesses of the interpretivist approach by calling upon greater contextual awareness that may help explain why certain interpretations (rather than others) dominate and are seen to represent organizational reality. Our research has a number of implications for research and practice. Firstly, for information systems researchers, this critical study illuminates the tensions and contradictions that exist in everyday organizational life, as told by workers experiencing this ‘at the front line’. We would like to encourage researchers to consider telling such stories and making their expertise available to these organizational participants, rather than accept the managerialist agendas that tend to dominate mainstream IS research. With relation to managers, it is important that they become aware of the ramifications of their working practices, even if they themselves have no ill intentions. A broader view of structures beyond their control coupled with a more realistic assessment of the difficulties of using systems such as CRM may make them more attuned to understanding the practices of call centre workers, especially when systems do not deliver as intended. Finally, for policy makers faced with the growing call centre industry and the threats posed by the offshoring of service work, we recommend that they become attendant to the difficulties entailed in the shift towards standardised, low skill work (often seen as being facilitated by technology) and the consequences of this. We would also suggest that they become more familiar with the specificity of the region/locality and the diversity and strengths that this brings to transitory, low-skilled work. There are some limitations to this study. Further development of transformative redefinition and broader social change is something that as researchers we can only strive for in the furtherance of our work. Increasingly, media attention is focussing on call centre work, which is being outsourced to developing countries. The dynamics of this social reality would provide a further dimension to this research and open up new avenues for exploring the topic further. One obvious drawback is that the empirical aspects concern a small study in a particular area of the North West of the UK. CRM use across the organizations concerned could have provided some additional insights. However, Sorensen and Williams (2002) argue that even small studies or individual case analysis can provide rich insights for intervention; Bourdieu (1998) would agree, explaining the value of his encounters with many everyday people caught in the contradictions of the social world and experienced through their own ‘personal dramas’. We hope that the telling of these ‘personal dramas’ can contribute to a disrupting of social realities in a critical research approach that combines interpretive understanding with a commitment to radical social change.