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Work activities and content of tasks in costumer services

Grant number: 07/08286-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: March 01, 2008 - February 28, 2010
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Production Engineering
Principal researcher:Laerte Idal Sznelwar
Grantee:Laerte Idal Sznelwar
Home Institution: Escola Politécnica (EP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to study costumer service in call centers to show situations where operations are significantly communicational distortions and what this means as a consequence for production results and for the workers involved. There are two possible approaches from the theoretical and methodological point of view: that of ergonomics and of the psychodynamics of work. Considering that despite their proximities, they have significant methodological difference due to the theoretical/epistemological cut that each does on the subject of study "work". This research will make possible a deeper debate with respect to custumer service in call centers operations that cause some type of suffering, since there are no specific data for mental suffering, but there are indications of its occurrence. In principle, ergonomics looks at aspects based in physiology and cognitive psychology. The issues therefore have as their starting point that which can be explained by studies that prioritize the cognitive aspects of work activities and projects for improvement. Therefore, given the epistemological take adopted, ergonomics ends up failing to address subjects that have to do with feelings and identity, which are significant from the human point of view. Moreover, concepts about the psyche, about pleasure and suffering are not incorporated into the ergonomics approach. These aspects are the focus of studies based in psychodynamics of work, a line of research and action more specific to the subjective issue of work. Studies in this area of knowledge have shown the relevance of the issue and have set new challenges for those who are active as researchers and professionals. Comprehending the reality and comparing distinct points of view, especially with respect to organizational choices, to the project and the content of tasks, to the effective activities and their consequences for workers' health and for production results can be useful in facilitating the processes of transformations and improvements and above all in the adoption of more appropriate paradigms for the project and services management. More recent evolutions in the epistemological debate bring up an interesting dilemma in the world of production. The exhaustion, at least in theory, of the models derived from positivism and functionalism, could allow the incorporation of other paradigms. One example, still inside the companies, would be to consider that work, especially providing front line business services, which will be the focus of this research be something simple, liable to control and contributory to restrictive procedures. It could be said that these paradigms are false, if we incorporate not just the results of already developed studies, but also if we base ourselves in paradigms from theories of complexity and organizational activities, in addition to the conceptual bases of ergonomics and the psychodynamics of work. Based on these considerations, we will develop empirical studies and concepts that can help comprehend work in its various aspects, which in this study will provide an opportunity to promote a dialogue among these diverse fields of investigation, especially ergonomics and the psychodynamics of work, seeking to apprehend possible complementarities, confluences and/or divergences and incompatibilities. To do so, the proposal is to study specific situations and subsidize the broadening of the field of theoretical research in the search for new practices in comprehension and intervention in the reality of production. Another result would be to help advance knowledge in the services sector, especially because it is a sector fully under development where there are still a lot of gaps in the projects and in management. (AU)

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