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

Anne McBride*, Paula Hyde, Ruth Young, Kieran Walshe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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