How the 'customer' influences the skills of the front-line worker

Authors: Mcbride, Anne; Hyde, Paula; Young, Ruth; Walshe, Kieran

Source: Human Resource Management Journal, 1 April 2005, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 35-49(15)


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Previous research illustrates how managers use the 'customer' in the service sector to develop roles and determine requisite skill sets. This article uses the evaluation of a recent workforce modernisation initiative in the NHS to provide insights into the manner in which the patient has played an increasing role in the construction of skills in healthcare. It indicates how public-funded healthcare in the NHS contains similar tensions and contradictions to service work in consumer capitalism. Although the patient is not in a position of authority, the desire of some workers to address fully the physical and psychological needs of the patient (or embodied customer) leads them to develop skills and roles that management may find hard to resource within current budgets.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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