Workplace Learning in Interactive Service Work: Coming to Practice Differently in the Connected Service Encounter
We increasingly live in a world where human and digital work and activities are intertwined in so-called digital networks, which implies changes to the skills demanded by human labour. Traditionally, the professional encounter between a service provider and a customer, client or learner has been conceptualised as ‘a game between people’, with little interference from technologies of any sort. This thesis explores how the digitalisation of frontline services changes workplace learning in interactive service work, with a specific focus on the emotional labour involved in service encounters. The theory of practice architecture is used as framework for exploring workplace learning in salespeople’s service encounters in connected retail chain stores. In the thesis, workplace learning refers to learning, training and skills development for worklife both in and outside of workplaces as well as in virtual spaces. The empirical foundation of the thesis comprises four separate studies conducted using ethnographic methods and online video research. Together, they contribute to the thesis by providing four perspectives on learning and training in service encounters: salespeople, apprentices, digital instructors (YouTube instructional videos) and employers, which is presented in four research papers. 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 existing conditions that form the practice architectures of salespeople’s service encounters are misaligned with those changes. Consequently, in order not to be marginalised in the connected store, retail FSEs must develop the skills necessary to interact and collaborate with technology and customers to create customer service and customer experiences. A significant contribution of this thesis that has implications for the design of VET and education for interactive service work is the findings that the connected service encounter is characterised by (1) a postdigital 6 dialogue; (2) service employees interact with both technology and customers; (3) service employees and technology have several roles, and (4) emotional labour skills comprise customer service skills intertwined with technical skills. In turn, the changes in service work identified in this thesis raise several questions regarding the development of workplace learning in the connected service encounter, such as, e.g., how to instruct and learn postdigital communication.
Parts of work
Arkenback-Sundström, C. (2021). A Postdigital Perspective on Service Work: Salespeople’s Service Encounters in the Connected Store. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-021-00280-2Arkenback, C. (2019). Work-Based Learning in a Digitalised Retail Checkout Practice Through the Lens of the Theory of Practice Architectures. In B. E. Stalder & C. Nägele (Eds.), VETNET ECER Proceedings VOL II - Hamburg DE 2019 (pp. 17-28). Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET). https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3366326Arkenback, C. (re-submitted July 2021). Exploring the History of Online Instructional Videos for Cashier Training to Develop a Practice-Based Taxonomy of Instructional Videos.Arkenback, C., & Lundin, M. (Manuscript in preparation). A Century of Service Work Training Through Instructional Videos: Modelling of the Cashier’s Role and Skills in the Checkout Service Encounter
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. IT-fakulteten
Department of Applied Information Technology ; Institutionen för tillämpad informationsteknologi
Fredagen den 4 februari 2022, kl. 13.00, Rum Torg Grön, institutionen för tillämpad informationsteknologi, Forskningsgången 6, Campus Lindholmen, Göteborg samt på distans.
Date of defence
interactive service work
theory of practice architectures
connected service encounter
MetadataShow full item record
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Igugu, Johnson Onajite; Biltoria, Pooja (2011-10-11)Cloud computing fundamentally provides access to computing resources and services over the internet. It offers potential solutions for effective testing by provisioning enormous amount of computing resources to end users. ...
Bjarnason, Tómas (2009-04-23)The focal point of this study is to explore the support service employees give to their organization. Its main objective is to define the concept of organizational support and to examine its causes, in particular to ...
Design for Service: A framework for articulating designers’ contribution as interpreter of users’ experience Wetter-Edman, Katarina (2014-03-11)During the past approximately 15 years designers have paid increasing attention to service and changes in our society, resulting in a new design discipline – service design. In parallel, designers’ contributions to service ...