ERIC Number: ED337574
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991
Reference Count: N/A
Communication at Work: An Ethnography of Checkout Operators.
An investigation focused on communication demands of the workplace, specifically those placed on checkout operators at a supermarket in Queensland, Australia. Key questions organized the investigation: What is the nature of communication in this workplace? How can this information be obtained? and How can the information be used to develop workplace communications programs? By adopting a naturalistic approach, the study analyzed ongoing events in the supermarket. Methodology included: (1) interviews and document review to gain an orientation to the supermarket; and (2) observations at three sites--the checkout, the shelves, and the tobacco shop--supplemented with informal interviews. Data were organized and analyzed in regard to physical aspects, the actors, and activities and events. Evidence from the study supports a view that the workplace provides substantial social and contextual support for communication. The supermarket uses many sign systems, some of which signal more than just one meaning. Checkout operators make predictions and inferences based on underlying sets of rules learned on the job. They require a range of complex communication skills plus an ability to develop and use a variety of problem-solving strategies to help save time, reduce labor, and increase accuracy. (Thirty-eight references and 22 figures are included. Fifteen appendices provide the following: glossary; price list; illustrations of stripping, barcode, and flags; sample copies of the slip, delivery and change order forms, Kodak processing envelope, processing service dealer record, unpriced items list, and department codes; sign-on sheet and assessment sheet; and a description of a member check.) (NLA)
Descriptors: Adult Literacy, Communication Research, Communication Skills, Ethnography, Food Service, Food Stores, Foreign Countries, Group Dynamics, Job Skills, Mathematics Skills, Naturalistic Observation, On the Job Training, Organizational Communication, Social Science Research, Workplace Literacy
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Australian Dept. of Employment, Education and Training, Canberra.
Authoring Institution: Queensland Council for Adult Literacy, Red Hill (Australia).
Identifiers: Australia (Queensland); Cashiers