Controlling service work: An ambiguous accomplishment between employees, management and customers

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Johnston, Allanah ; Sandberg, Jorgen (2008)

In order to understand the control of service work, most service literature has focused on its production while treating the customer as secondary. The consumption literature emphasizes the customer’s role but lacks empirical evidence for its claims. Using an ethnographic study of an ‘exclusive’ department store, this article aims to reduce the gap between these two bodies of literature by investigating how employees, management and customers control service work. The findings suggest that the maintenance of class difference combined with competing expectations of managers, employees and customers makes the management of service work highly ambiguous and reveals a continuing instability between managerial practices of\ud control and consumer culture.
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