In the last two decades the IT service support worker has emerged to be a worker-type of considerable socio-economic importance. Such workers are symbolic of the trends towards the importance of information/knowledge and information technology within modern economic/political systems. Such systems, heavily influenced by governmental bodies and business organisations, have aggrandised the use of rationalising customer-centric management techniques. And yet such symbolic workers are largely hidden and unacknowledged as a specific type of worker in the business literature.
This thesis represents an attempt to conceptualise the IT service support worker as a worker-type, inducing a conceptual model that identifies three aspects to the worker: information systems worker; knowledge worker and service worker and considers them from each of these perspectives. This qualitative research draws on a rich mix of observational and interview data collected across five UK organisations to produce a narrative that suggests that, for different IT service support workers, those different aspects tend to be variably emphasised within their team roles. The study additionally offers a theoretical conclusion that IT service support workers might reasonably be divided into different classes depending upon not only the design of their team role but also their individual career orientations and the nature of the knowledge they actually use in their work. Four such classes are identified as being of particular significance and these are evocatively named: Resigned Robots ; Constrained Careerists ; Establishment Experts and Aspiring Artisans . Whilst being outside of the scope of this study, it is suggested that this novel typology might also be useful for classifying other worker groupings.
The study is intended to be useful for the enhancement of IT service management practice and makes several contributions in this regard. These include the need for managers to recognise the importance of experientially-acquired knowledge for efficiency in IT service support work and a suggestion that managers might tailor HRM practices for different classes of worker.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
Funded by Loughborough University (competitive studentship)