Description of the thesis:
We increasingly live in a world where human and digital work and activities are intertwined in digital networks, which implies changes to the skills demanded by human labour. Traditionally, the professional encounter between a service provider and customer, client or guest has been conceptualised as ‘a game between people’, with little interference from new technology. This thesis explores using ethnographic methods how the digitalisation of frontline services changes workplace learning in interactive service work, especially the emotional labour involved in service encounters. The theory of practice architectures is used as the framework for exploring and describing workplace learning in salespeople’s service encounters in connected chain stores.
This thesis provides insights into the conditions that make salespeople’s service encounters in stores possible, how they are enacted as a game between people on the shopfloor, and why the fixed checkout has been and remains central to creating customer service and experiences. It also provides insights into how the retail chain organisations’ digitalisation of service encounters – aimed at creating seamless customer shopping experiences – is changing salespeople’s roles, skills and emotional labour. The thesis concludes that the connected service encounter is ‘a game between people and technology’ characterised by postdigital dialogue.
Fulltext version of the thesis