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Title:Building Character and Producing Door -to -Door Salespersons
Author(s):Schweingruber, David Scott
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Clark McPhail
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Business Administration, Management
Abstract:This study of a door-to-door sales company is concerned with unobtrusive control---the control of workers by attempting to set their cognitive premises. Since its salespersons work alone and are independent contractors, the Enterprise Company is limited in its use of direct and bureaucratic control. Instead, it relies on what it calls "emotional training," which is designed to change the way its student dealers think and feel about their work and themselves. This dissertation attempts to explain how the cognitive premises suggested by the Company---Enterprise Thinking---lead to carrying out its prescribed work routines. It suggests four different types of unobtrusive control techniques used by Enterprise managers to organize the Company's student dealers. The first of these is persuasive organizing , which consists of organizers presenting and describing, through a variety of media, the standards they desire student dealers to adopt, justifying their adoption and urging dealers to adopt them. Second, these managers provide commitment opportunities for dealers to make verbal and written commitments to prescribed thinking and work routines. Third, managers engage in team organizing, which consists of creating teams where both of the first two processes can take place and where team members support each other in maintaining Enterprise Thinking. This dissertation describes six types of teams to which dealers belong and the processes used to organize these teams and build team solidarity among their members. Fourth, individual commitment exercises are taught to dealers so they can strengthen their belief in Enterprise Thinking when they are alone. This dissertation's description of the contents of Enterprise Thinking focuses on two different types of motives for selling, monetary motives and non-monetary motives. Although a sales commission may seem like a straightforward motive for door-to-door sales, most dealers report that money fails to motivate them. Company managers help student dealers develop non-monetary motives, called "emotional incentives," for selling books door-to-door. These include service-mindedness, becoming a "finisher," having a positive mental attitude, making a "dedication" to another person and proving "skeptics" wrong. The dissertation concludes by suggesting some consequences of having unobtrusive control as a company's dominant strategy of worker control.
Issue Date:1999
Description:241 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9953129
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:1999

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