Big Brother or big bother? E-monitoring the salesforce


Advances in communication and information technology have fundamentally changed managerial monitoring. No longer is the field sales manager cut off from his geographically dispersed sales personnel as e-monitoring allows continual rather than intermittent views of a wide range of indicators with copious detail. Given this change in monitoring, we examined the possible effect it may have on customer orientation. Conceptually, customer orientation levels should be enhanced when e-monitoring purposes serve informational purposes and be impeded with controlling purposes. We gathered responses from field salespeople employed in the manufacturing sector and found some support for these expected effects. Customer orientation levels are higher when the predominant purpose of e-monitoring is to provide information. Thus efforts on the part of the manager to clarify the fact that e-monitoring is predominantly serving informational purposes will be worthwhile. Contrary to expectations our HLM moderator analyses indicate the reaction to either control or inform purposes in a very bureaucratic culture is less dramatic than that expressed in a less bureaucratic one. In low –rather than high -bureaucratic cultural contexts, informing attributions help and controlling hurt customer orientation. A firm which is not highly bureaucratic but uses e-monitoring as a control mechanism, then it may be giving mixed messages to the salesperson with a resultant level of confusion and lack of customer-orientation. A firm which is not highly bureaucratic and uses e-monitoring to empower or inform may be more focused and effective in gaining higher levels of customer orientation from their field salespeople.



E-monitoring, Managerial monitoring, Organizational culture, Salesforce automation, Sales personnel, Performance monitoring, Sales force