Computer based monitoring in U.K. service organizations : a comparative study

  • K.S. Ball

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The majority of the literature about CBM is American in origin, and (inter alia) notes that there were differing uses of similar technology, indicating that context has an important role to play in the use of CBM. The literature maps the psychological effects of CBM in considerable detail, but only two published studies examine the context of CBM. These grounded results provide scant support for any systematic, quantitative, large scale analysis of computer based monitoring in the UK context. This thesis thus aims to systemically examine the context of CBM using discourse analysis. Forty four interviewees were theoretically sampled using a structured sample technique in four organizations. All were national or multinational enterprises. The interviews were semi structured in nature and divided into three sections. The first addressed the respondents' thoughts and perceptions about CBM, the second elicited talk about the departmental context (focusing the management - worker relationship), and the final section addressed the organizational context. The cases demonstrated variation in the use of CBM, measured according to the criteria of Westin (1987, 1988) and according to the interpretive repertoires used by the respondents in each case. Seven analytical categories of talk emerged from the data: three at the organizational level and four at the departmental level of analysis. Discourse analysis revealed two discrete interpretive repertories - the procedural and the substantive repertoires - in respondents' talk whose main variation occurred at the departmental level of analysis. Furthermore, patterns were found in the use of these repertories within cases and between categories. Between the cases, variation in the use of the repertories matched the between case variation according to the criteria of Westin. It would thus appear that the source of variation in the use of CBM lies in its context, more specifically in the relative emphasis of humanistic, interpersonal and idiosyncratic values within the management worker relationship.
Date of Award1996
Original languageEnglish


  • Computer based monitoring
  • U.K. service organizations

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