Human Resource Management In Service Industries Marketing Essay

2566 words (10 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Marketing Reference this

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Introduction

McDonaldization is a concept used by George Ritzer. In his book, The McDonaldization of Society (1993), he describes that McDonaldization appears when a culture acquires a fast-food restaurant’s characteristics. It is said to be useful in helping us understand the organisation and experience of retail work in the UK. However, others claimed that the concept of the customer-oriented bureaucracy is actually the more appropriate one. The term was mentioned by Professor Marek Korczynski, to draw attention to the stresses between routinization and efficiency with a customer focus. 

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In this essay I am going to first compare and contrast the use and limitation of mcdonaldization and customer-oriented bureaucracy by using different example such as the supermarket and electronic stores.  After that, I will outline the ways in which the two concepts either lives up to, or fails to live up to, help us understand the organisation and experience of retail work in the UK.

McDonaldization is the advancement from the traditional ways to logical style of thought, and scientific management. Where Max Weber used the model of the bureaucracy to represent the direction of this changing society, Ritzer suggested that fast-food restaurant has become a representative contemporary paradigm (Ritzer, 2004). There are four main elements of McDonaldization highlighted by Ritzer: Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and control through Nonhuman technology.

Four Dimensions

Firstly, efficiency in McDonaldization refers to the concept that the whole organization is focus on getting results, the minimal of time it used up in order to achieve a task and on a realization of aimed plans (Wilkinson, 2006). It should also be noted that Ritzer (1993) has give “efficiency” a very specific meaning – the optimal method is to the get from one point to other point by the fastest way. For instant, today’s grocery self-checkout machines have eliminated most of the human cashiers due to its highly efficiency and accuracy. Thus not only improve the overall efficiency within the organization but also provide a more user-friendly environment to the customer. As Andrew Bruenderma(2009) put it:

By replacing human employees at checkouts with self-checkout systems, managers are able to provide cheaper service to customers without the higher error risk of human employees compared to that of machines. Before, groceries may have had eighteen checkout lines, with an employee at each register. Now, however, McDonaldization of the checkout process could potentially allow managers to fire 15 of those 18 cashiers, and use the remaining three cashiers to each oversee a self-checkout system with six units per system. While holding the number of checkouts stable, this allows the grocery to greatly cut operation costs from wages.

Although Bruenderma (2009) claimed that supermarkets like Tesco plc become more cost-effective and highly efficient due to the McDonaldization of certain parts of the organization like the checkout department, McDonaldization cannot explain the other part of the fact that the organization is trying to keep a high quality of customer relationship which is suggested in the theory of customer- oriented bureaucracy .

Secondly, Calculability can be defined as a penchant to assess the quality in terms of the Quantity (Quinn, 2000).In other words, objective should be scientific rather than subjective. Ritzer claimed that in McDonaldization all things can be calculated, counted, quantified (Ritzer, 1993) , which allows people to quantify the time or effort they are paying and compare it with the reward they gets. In Bruenderma’s (2009) opinion, as people feel more pressed for time than ever, they begin to value things that come quickly: quick meals, cash advances, digital video recorders, etc. The mindset is catching on that if something is delivered quickly, then it is assumed to be a positive thing. Nowadays, most of the retail shops provide trolleys and self- checkout machines, or even the electronic stock checking system in catalogue showroom retailing like Argos. These improvements allows customer to shop faster and easier, which favours them by by saving their time.

With respect to Predictability, Ritzer declared that a rational society emphasizes predictability as discipline, order, systematization, formalization, routine, consistency, and methodological operation (Ritzer, 1993).By other words, “Predictability” means that same service and product can be recieve each time when interacting with the McDonaldized organization. Predictability is the guarantee that products and services will be identical, regardless of time and location. (Bruenderma, 2009) In UK, Most of the national chain supermarket or department stores including Tesco plc, Sainsbury, John Lewis or Debenhams, Customers are expected to get the same service and product when they enter any of the branch within the same company. Thus proves the McDonladization process undergoes within the retail industry in UK.

Lastly, the four dimension involve Control through Nonhuman Technology. This element is to control over people who interacting with the Mcdonaldized organization. In Ritzer (2004)’s example, lines, limited menus, few options, and uncomfortable seats all lead diners to do what management wishes them to do – eat quickly and leave. It should be noted that these controls relate to both sides of a social interaction in social institutions. Control is based on substitution of nonhuman for human technology (Jagoda, 2008) Again, through McDonaldization, a control by computers and robots was introduced, such as the introduction of self checkout and Barcode reader, Chip ‘n’ Pin and magnetic card reader.

Customer-oriented bureaucracy

Customer-oriented bureaucracy describes a type of work organization that balance rationalization and cost minimization with a customer focus. It also suggests that firms based in service industry operate in environments in which there exist contradicted rules and principle related to minimising cost and delivering customer-oriented service quality (Korczynski 2001, 2002).

Firstly, the Dominant organizing principle is one of the main aspects. Base on this concept, the dimensions of work organisation need to integrate the paradoxical logics of the customer-oriented bureaucracy in order to maximise task efficiency whilst concurrently ensuring a strong customer relationship. Thus, organizations are required to be both competitively efficient and interesting in meeting expectations of the customer. Therefore, the need to improve efficiency by lowing costs and the need to deliver high-quality service co-exist within a single business (Korczynski 2002).

For example, Supermarket like Tesco and Sainsbury still provide cashier counter despite the fact that self-checkout machines provide a much higher efficiency in dealing with customer’s payment as well as lowing the wages. However, due to the customer oriented logic, the organizations are willing to keep a closer distance with their customer. As a result, cashier counters still present in supermarkets in order to keep a good relationship with the customers.

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Nevertheless, at the point of the frontline worker’s view, providing a top-quality service and keeping the level of high efficiency will become contradicted. For example, a conversation mentioned in Korczynksi’s (2009) book has given a perfect example about the dual logics of rationalization and orientation to customer’s needs, which is so-called ” ideal of socially embredded worker-customer interactions” (Korczynksi,2009)

She is behind the counter at the store. There is a steady stream of customers; small children, old people, husky young men off the road repair gang…She addresses each by name. There are constant soft, jocular exchanges. “A transaction here is not entirely economic. It’s a matter of friendship and socializing.” For a minute, that’s as important to me as getting “that quarter”.

With respect to the Labour Process, the model of customer- oriented bureaucracy suggested that management not only require workers to sustain the enchanting myth of customer sovereignty, but also the high level of efficiency and quickness in their daily work. By Korczynksi’s (2009) word, management demands that service workers have both a qualitative and quantitative focus in the work that they do. An obvious example will be the department stores such as Primark and Debenhams. Not only the shop level workers are expected to deal with a large amount of customer every day, but they are also expected to give a high degree of service quality to these customer. For instant, shop assistants in clothing stores are required to keep the store clean and clothes to be tidy up. However, they are also required to deal with customer’s problem and provide high quality of customer care, which causes them not possible to put full effort on their work.

As far as the basis of Division of labour is concerned, it is another important element of the customer-oriented bureaucracy which seeks to maximize the efficiency of goal achievement and fulfil the needs to cater to the irrational nature of the customer. It should be noted that the enchanting myth of sovereignty is more likely to be achieved if the maintenance of customer relationship is a guiding principle for the division of labour (Korczynksi, 2009). Thus causes a huge difference between encounter and relationships since in encounter each service interaction is independent and front line workers are interchangeable in the eyes of both the customers and the workers (Korczynksi, 2009; Gutek, 1995).

On the other hand, relationships are said to be a continuous process which created a connection between a particular front line worker and a particular customer. They become known to each other and expect continued interaction in the future. In the retail industry, this situation is more like to happen in retail store located in less busy area as their tension between keeping high efficiency and maintaining customer relationship are smaller. Thus they can emphasis more on customer relationship rather than efficiency. However, there is a way that organizations use to create a fragile social order out of the protentially contradictory approaches to the division of labour. (Korczynksi, 2009; Gutek, 1995; Winslow & Bramer, 1994). According to the concept of the so called “pseudo- relationship”, management are able to use expert systems such as Business Process Reengineering ( BPR) to allow front line workers to instantly call-up range and depth of information on customers to allow them to “make encounters feel more personal,” and to allow a “simulation” of a relationship. Thus provides an overview of the customer’s information which better allow the front line worker to stimulate a relationship with the customer. For example, large department store usually store customer’s previous shopping records in their centralized computer system. Once the customer have any queries about things they bought previously or request for a delivery, front line workers can then send those previous transaction records to other department quickly and save a lot of time. Thus not only maintains good quality of service work, but also keeps a high level of efficiency.

Subsequently, the basis of Authority in the customer- oriented bureaucracy slightly differs from that in the theory of bureaucratization. In Weber’s (1968) bureaucracy, the basis of authority will be from the rational- legal authority, which means the legitimate or rational is the dominant one in the modern world and our society is moving towards rationalisation. But in the customer-oriented bureaucracy, authority also directly comes from the customer. It is based on the conclusion that there is a “two bosses dilemma “faced by front line workers. (Shamir, 1980) It understands the rise of customer authority to be a new process of value rationalization albeit in contradiction to bureaucratic rationalization. (Brook, 2007)

In order to bond these two “potentially contradictory” bases of authority together, Korczynksi (2009) suggested that Total Quality Management is one of the Management level’s approaches which connect with the rise of consumer authority as a figure of authority at a societal level.  It is based on a strategic approach that emphasis on keeping up existing quality standards and making further quality improvements. However, it rests upon an image of a customer whose behaviour and attitudes can be measured, predicted and managed, which means that it might not be able to cope with the value rationality and unpredictability of human nature ( Korczynksi, 2009)

Customer-oriented bureaucracy maintained the importance of the management role as it may address the dual logics at play by creating a dualistic organizational structure, which consists of both the bureaucratic side and the uncertainty nature of customer. Nevertheless, a key management tool can ensure the whole organization can remain rhetoric and symbolism (Korczynski, 2009), which exclude tensions and bring a good working environment within the organization. It should be noted that management should not promote statement which go against the commitment to the workforce within the organization, or the workforce may question the rhetoric brings up by the management level is actually matched by concrete practices. This also implies in the retail industry. For instant, Tesco plc has a mission statement “to create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty.”(Tesco plc 2011) It show a certain level of the management level’s ambitious to maintain a high level of customer relationship and good customer care, despite the fact that managers are more concern and focus on the bureaucracy side.

Conclusion

Customer-oriented Bureaucracy theory suggests that for front-line workers the existence of the duel logics of rationalization and orientation to the formally irrational part of customers, basis of Authority and the rise of customer authority have made customer service the first priority in their work experience.

On the other side, McDonaldization is based on four basic dimensions of rationalization, which are these of efficiency, predictability, control and calculability. These four characteristics pervade the society. (Jagoda, 2008) However, it seems to ignore the fact that there are potential affects from the existence of customer relationship. In fact, customer relationship plays a very important roles in maintaining the the balance between the rationalization and orientation to the irrational aspect of customers. If the organization fails to maintain a high quality of customer relationship, the enchanting myth of sovereignty is unlikely to be achieved. In this case, it may prevent the organization from achieving its final goal – being cost-effective and profit driven.

Introduction

McDonaldization is a concept used by George Ritzer. In his book, The McDonaldization of Society (1993), he describes that McDonaldization appears when a culture acquires a fast-food restaurant’s characteristics. It is said to be useful in helping us understand the organisation and experience of retail work in the UK. However, others claimed that the concept of the customer-oriented bureaucracy is actually the more appropriate one. The term was mentioned by Professor Marek Korczynski, to draw attention to the stresses between routinization and efficiency with a customer focus. 

In this essay I am going to first compare and contrast the use and limitation of mcdonaldization and customer-oriented bureaucracy by using different example such as the supermarket and electronic stores.  After that, I will outline the ways in which the two concepts either lives up to, or fails to live up to, help us understand the organisation and experience of retail work in the UK.

McDonaldization is the advancement from the traditional ways to logical style of thought, and scientific management. Where Max Weber used the model of the bureaucracy to represent the direction of this changing society, Ritzer suggested that fast-food restaurant has become a representative contemporary paradigm (Ritzer, 2004). There are four main elements of McDonaldization highlighted by Ritzer: Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and control through Nonhuman technology.

Four Dimensions

Firstly, efficiency in McDonaldization refers to the concept that the whole organization is focus on getting results, the minimal of time it used up in order to achieve a task and on a realization of aimed plans (Wilkinson, 2006). It should also be noted that Ritzer (1993) has give “efficiency” a very specific meaning – the optimal method is to the get from one point to other point by the fastest way. For instant, today’s grocery self-checkout machines have eliminated most of the human cashiers due to its highly efficiency and accuracy. Thus not only improve the overall efficiency within the organization but also provide a more user-friendly environment to the customer. As Andrew Bruenderma(2009) put it:

By replacing human employees at checkouts with self-checkout systems, managers are able to provide cheaper service to customers without the higher error risk of human employees compared to that of machines. Before, groceries may have had eighteen checkout lines, with an employee at each register. Now, however, McDonaldization of the checkout process could potentially allow managers to fire 15 of those 18 cashiers, and use the remaining three cashiers to each oversee a self-checkout system with six units per system. While holding the number of checkouts stable, this allows the grocery to greatly cut operation costs from wages.

Although Bruenderma (2009) claimed that supermarkets like Tesco plc become more cost-effective and highly efficient due to the McDonaldization of certain parts of the organization like the checkout department, McDonaldization cannot explain the other part of the fact that the organization is trying to keep a high quality of customer relationship which is suggested in the theory of customer- oriented bureaucracy .

Secondly, Calculability can be defined as a penchant to assess the quality in terms of the Quantity (Quinn, 2000).In other words, objective should be scientific rather than subjective. Ritzer claimed that in McDonaldization all things can be calculated, counted, quantified (Ritzer, 1993) , which allows people to quantify the time or effort they are paying and compare it with the reward they gets. In Bruenderma’s (2009) opinion, as people feel more pressed for time than ever, they begin to value things that come quickly: quick meals, cash advances, digital video recorders, etc. The mindset is catching on that if something is delivered quickly, then it is assumed to be a positive thing. Nowadays, most of the retail shops provide trolleys and self- checkout machines, or even the electronic stock checking system in catalogue showroom retailing like Argos. These improvements allows customer to shop faster and easier, which favours them by by saving their time.

With respect to Predictability, Ritzer declared that a rational society emphasizes predictability as discipline, order, systematization, formalization, routine, consistency, and methodological operation (Ritzer, 1993).By other words, “Predictability” means that same service and product can be recieve each time when interacting with the McDonaldized organization. Predictability is the guarantee that products and services will be identical, regardless of time and location. (Bruenderma, 2009) In UK, Most of the national chain supermarket or department stores including Tesco plc, Sainsbury, John Lewis or Debenhams, Customers are expected to get the same service and product when they enter any of the branch within the same company. Thus proves the McDonladization process undergoes within the retail industry in UK.

Lastly, the four dimension involve Control through Nonhuman Technology. This element is to control over people who interacting with the Mcdonaldized organization. In Ritzer (2004)’s example, lines, limited menus, few options, and uncomfortable seats all lead diners to do what management wishes them to do – eat quickly and leave. It should be noted that these controls relate to both sides of a social interaction in social institutions. Control is based on substitution of nonhuman for human technology (Jagoda, 2008) Again, through McDonaldization, a control by computers and robots was introduced, such as the introduction of self checkout and Barcode reader, Chip ‘n’ Pin and magnetic card reader.

Customer-oriented bureaucracy

Customer-oriented bureaucracy describes a type of work organization that balance rationalization and cost minimization with a customer focus. It also suggests that firms based in service industry operate in environments in which there exist contradicted rules and principle related to minimising cost and delivering customer-oriented service quality (Korczynski 2001, 2002).

Firstly, the Dominant organizing principle is one of the main aspects. Base on this concept, the dimensions of work organisation need to integrate the paradoxical logics of the customer-oriented bureaucracy in order to maximise task efficiency whilst concurrently ensuring a strong customer relationship. Thus, organizations are required to be both competitively efficient and interesting in meeting expectations of the customer. Therefore, the need to improve efficiency by lowing costs and the need to deliver high-quality service co-exist within a single business (Korczynski 2002).

For example, Supermarket like Tesco and Sainsbury still provide cashier counter despite the fact that self-checkout machines provide a much higher efficiency in dealing with customer’s payment as well as lowing the wages. However, due to the customer oriented logic, the organizations are willing to keep a closer distance with their customer. As a result, cashier counters still present in supermarkets in order to keep a good relationship with the customers.

Nevertheless, at the point of the frontline worker’s view, providing a top-quality service and keeping the level of high efficiency will become contradicted. For example, a conversation mentioned in Korczynksi’s (2009) book has given a perfect example about the dual logics of rationalization and orientation to customer’s needs, which is so-called ” ideal of socially embredded worker-customer interactions” (Korczynksi,2009)

She is behind the counter at the store. There is a steady stream of customers; small children, old people, husky young men off the road repair gang…She addresses each by name. There are constant soft, jocular exchanges. “A transaction here is not entirely economic. It’s a matter of friendship and socializing.” For a minute, that’s as important to me as getting “that quarter”.

With respect to the Labour Process, the model of customer- oriented bureaucracy suggested that management not only require workers to sustain the enchanting myth of customer sovereignty, but also the high level of efficiency and quickness in their daily work. By Korczynksi’s (2009) word, management demands that service workers have both a qualitative and quantitative focus in the work that they do. An obvious example will be the department stores such as Primark and Debenhams. Not only the shop level workers are expected to deal with a large amount of customer every day, but they are also expected to give a high degree of service quality to these customer. For instant, shop assistants in clothing stores are required to keep the store clean and clothes to be tidy up. However, they are also required to deal with customer’s problem and provide high quality of customer care, which causes them not possible to put full effort on their work.

As far as the basis of Division of labour is concerned, it is another important element of the customer-oriented bureaucracy which seeks to maximize the efficiency of goal achievement and fulfil the needs to cater to the irrational nature of the customer. It should be noted that the enchanting myth of sovereignty is more likely to be achieved if the maintenance of customer relationship is a guiding principle for the division of labour (Korczynksi, 2009). Thus causes a huge difference between encounter and relationships since in encounter each service interaction is independent and front line workers are interchangeable in the eyes of both the customers and the workers (Korczynksi, 2009; Gutek, 1995).

On the other hand, relationships are said to be a continuous process which created a connection between a particular front line worker and a particular customer. They become known to each other and expect continued interaction in the future. In the retail industry, this situation is more like to happen in retail store located in less busy area as their tension between keeping high efficiency and maintaining customer relationship are smaller. Thus they can emphasis more on customer relationship rather than efficiency. However, there is a way that organizations use to create a fragile social order out of the protentially contradictory approaches to the division of labour. (Korczynksi, 2009; Gutek, 1995; Winslow & Bramer, 1994). According to the concept of the so called “pseudo- relationship”, management are able to use expert systems such as Business Process Reengineering ( BPR) to allow front line workers to instantly call-up range and depth of information on customers to allow them to “make encounters feel more personal,” and to allow a “simulation” of a relationship. Thus provides an overview of the customer’s information which better allow the front line worker to stimulate a relationship with the customer. For example, large department store usually store customer’s previous shopping records in their centralized computer system. Once the customer have any queries about things they bought previously or request for a delivery, front line workers can then send those previous transaction records to other department quickly and save a lot of time. Thus not only maintains good quality of service work, but also keeps a high level of efficiency.

Subsequently, the basis of Authority in the customer- oriented bureaucracy slightly differs from that in the theory of bureaucratization. In Weber’s (1968) bureaucracy, the basis of authority will be from the rational- legal authority, which means the legitimate or rational is the dominant one in the modern world and our society is moving towards rationalisation. But in the customer-oriented bureaucracy, authority also directly comes from the customer. It is based on the conclusion that there is a “two bosses dilemma “faced by front line workers. (Shamir, 1980) It understands the rise of customer authority to be a new process of value rationalization albeit in contradiction to bureaucratic rationalization. (Brook, 2007)

In order to bond these two “potentially contradictory” bases of authority together, Korczynksi (2009) suggested that Total Quality Management is one of the Management level’s approaches which connect with the rise of consumer authority as a figure of authority at a societal level.  It is based on a strategic approach that emphasis on keeping up existing quality standards and making further quality improvements. However, it rests upon an image of a customer whose behaviour and attitudes can be measured, predicted and managed, which means that it might not be able to cope with the value rationality and unpredictability of human nature ( Korczynksi, 2009)

Customer-oriented bureaucracy maintained the importance of the management role as it may address the dual logics at play by creating a dualistic organizational structure, which consists of both the bureaucratic side and the uncertainty nature of customer. Nevertheless, a key management tool can ensure the whole organization can remain rhetoric and symbolism (Korczynski, 2009), which exclude tensions and bring a good working environment within the organization. It should be noted that management should not promote statement which go against the commitment to the workforce within the organization, or the workforce may question the rhetoric brings up by the management level is actually matched by concrete practices. This also implies in the retail industry. For instant, Tesco plc has a mission statement “to create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty.”(Tesco plc 2011) It show a certain level of the management level’s ambitious to maintain a high level of customer relationship and good customer care, despite the fact that managers are more concern and focus on the bureaucracy side.

Conclusion

Customer-oriented Bureaucracy theory suggests that for front-line workers the existence of the duel logics of rationalization and orientation to the formally irrational part of customers, basis of Authority and the rise of customer authority have made customer service the first priority in their work experience.

On the other side, McDonaldization is based on four basic dimensions of rationalization, which are these of efficiency, predictability, control and calculability. These four characteristics pervade the society. (Jagoda, 2008) However, it seems to ignore the fact that there are potential affects from the existence of customer relationship. In fact, customer relationship plays a very important roles in maintaining the the balance between the rationalization and orientation to the irrational aspect of customers. If the organization fails to maintain a high quality of customer relationship, the enchanting myth of sovereignty is unlikely to be achieved. In this case, it may prevent the organization from achieving its final goal – being cost-effective and profit driven.

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