work behavior has continued to take place in ways that are consistent with the past.
Advances in computer technologies and information systems have facilitated the further diffusion of mechanization and automation in service work. A recent management text notes, "Led by franchisers, more and more service firms are standardizing their operating procedures. Costs are reduced as a result of economies of scale, and bottlenecks become easier to identify and eliminate. Quality control is aided by increased conformance to clear specifications. And standardization of job tasks allows the organization to recruit relatively unskilled, inexpensive workers who require only limited training to perform highly routinized tasks" (Lovelock, 1990:352). Evidence of the expansion of this kind of rationalization to more occupational subgroups is found in a series of studies of clerical and retail workers (e.g., Bluestone et al., 1981; National Research Council, 1986b; Garson, 1988; Kohl, 1993; Batt and Keefe, 1999), Electronic monitoring, once associated only with telephone operator jobs, is now available for use in covering a much broader range of work.
More recently, automation has expanded from the back office (typists, data processors, operators) to the front office (customer service and sales employees). Mechanisms such as toll-free telephone numbers, automatic call distribution and routing systems, and voice recognition systems have made it possible to achieve dramatic improvements in economies of scale through centralized distribution channels serving wider geographic areas. What were once local customer service and/or sales operations providing personal service to repeat customers have become large "call centers" providing remote service through toll-free numbers. Examples include call centers in telemarketing operations, banking (Hunter, 1998a), telecommunications (Batt and Keefe, 1999), and insurance (Keltner and Jenson, 1998). Although research on information technology in the 1980s found no increase in productivity associated with investments in technology (e.g., National Research Council, 1994), more recent studies are beginning to change that view (e.g., Brynjolfsson and Yang, 1996). Automation