Training Soft Skills in Retail Organizations

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Within the increasing fashion of “training soft skills” in organizations, the individualistic agency isn’t questioned. This study shows how the individualistic discourse hinders rather than facilitates change in organizations.
The study is grounded in a social constructionist approach (Gergen, 1994), using discourse analysis as methodology (Grant et al., 2004). For gathering text, 21 problem-centred interviews (Witzel, 2000) and 13 group discussions (Steyaert and Bouwen, 2004) with altogether 106 participants were carried out in two large retail-organizations.
The following analysis showed, that one of the main discourses constructing social relations is, that only one person renders responsible for the quality of the social relation, thus ignoring the feature of the ‘in between’ of the social situation.
Here soft skills get constructed as part of a person’s ‘character’ rather than his or her ‘abilities’. This ‘character’ is seen as originating in upbringing and school. When the person enters the organizations (s)he is constructed as ‘finished’, thus the organization hardly gets any agency to train or change the social realities.
Consequences of these results for organizations are to closely consider how they stage their training and education regarding ‘soft skills’ or ‘team building’. In a second step discourses from the study which de-focus from the individual and thus offer a more flexible approach for changing realities of social relations within organizations will be offered.
Key words: Soft skills,

Authors Resch, Doerte
Projects Resch, Doerte (2002) Konstruktionen Sozialen Miteinanders in Organisationen - Jenseits individualistischer Zuschreibungen von Kompetenz für ein Soziales [dissertation project] Official URL
Journal or Publication Title International Journal of Management Cases (IJMC)
Language English
Keywords soft skills, discourse analysis, retail organization, social constructionism, human resources, change
Subjects other research area
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 17 April 2009
Publisher International Journal of Management Cases - IJMC
Place of Publication Darwen / Lancashire
Page Range 476-485
Number of Pages 10
Title of Book Special Issue Circle 2009
Event Title 6th International Conference for Consumer Behaviour and Retailing Research (Circle)
Event Location Dornbirn / Austria
Event Dates 16.-18.04.2009
ISSN 1741-6264
Depositing User Prof. Dr. Doerte Resch
Date Deposited 17 Apr 2009 16:58
Last Modified 04 May 2018 11:00


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Resch, Doerte: Training Soft Skills in Retail Organizations. 2009. - 6th International Conference for Consumer Behaviour and Retailing Research (Circle). - Dornbirn / Austria.

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