Customer focus: enacted premise and received practice.
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This study crafts a schema for understanding the relationship between what organisations say they do and the way they operationalise what they think: the premise-to-received practice. The study navigates its way through an exhaustive volume of relevant work on organisation and organising. The case is argued for adoption of the symbolic interpretive paradigmatic perspective. It is particularly suitable for investigating enacted premise and received practice contexts. A research design is applied in putting these paradigmatic assumptions into motion. The study reports on interpretations emerging from analysis of 'lived experiences' from the two organisational contexts under investigation.A focus for the study was the Public Sector (Western Australia) reform strategy, known as 'customer focus'. The study's title 'Customer Focus: Enacted premise and received practice', locates interest in the relationship between organisational intentions and actions using customer focus as the lens for grounding organisational experiences. This study investigates the apparent reified social construct of organisation though a customer focus lens.Similar studies have focused on interpretation schemata in order to understand key organisational events that support the methodology and assumptions used in this, study. Such studies owes allegiance to the constructivist ontology, based on the' belief of the existence of multiple realities whereby the research act is epistemologically interpretive, aimed at generating understanding.Following the tenets of constructivist and interpretive knowledge, a qualitative methodology was used. Viewing organising as explicitly communicative, the research strategy adopted a symbolic interpretive theoretical perspective. Consistent with hermeneutics and grounded theory principles (not methods), the study sought further understanding of the relationship between organisational intentions and actions. The research design emphasised an interpretive approach by eliciting data from individual points of view within the work setting. A sample of six organisations was selected, and sixty-one interviews were conducted. Focus interviews were conducted with Top Management Teams. Individual interviews were conducted with Workers.Two sets of meanings were construed. One, Top Management Teams, enacted involvement, commitment, communication and relationships. This was related to Top Management Teams practice of control. The other, Workers, enacted the same meanings in the customer focus strategy, involvement, commitment, communication and relationships. This was related to Workers received practice of equivocality.This study reports on two major findings. First, there was harmony in the enacted thinking on the meaning for customer focus across Top Management Teams and Workers. Second, the harmony in the enacted thinking on the meanings for customer focus across the two groups were discordant with the way respondents operationalise what they report they think. Top Management Teams were unaware of the discord between the way they say they think (involvement, commitment, communication and relationships) and the way they operationalise what they think (practices of control). The discord between premise and practice in Top Management Teams was received in practice by Workers as equivocality. Equivocality emerged as discordant with Worker premise taken for customer focus as meaning to create shared understanding.The study emerged a non-alignment between what organisations say they do (Top Management Team enacted premise) and the way they operationalise what they think (Worker received practice).
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