Vulnerable Communities / Publication Abstract

Antiservice as Guiding Maxim: Tough Lessons From a Maximum Security Prison

Feb 1, 2016

Ronald Paul Hill, Michael L Capella, Justine M Rapp, Gramercy Gentlemen

Vulnerable Communities


The service literature is replete with theoretical and practical paradigms to improve service quality and advance goals of service providers as well as their customers. Often taken for granted is the assumption that organizations and their actors are interested in the well-being of those they serve as a way to bolster corporate images and engender long-term customer loyalty. While service failures are expected to happen, most successful firms seek to recover from these occurrences to maintain good relationships with their customers. However, is it possible for an organization to operate in a culture of antiservice? To address this question, we conducted an 18-month ethnographic investigation with men incarcerated in a maximum security prison using the participatory action research methodology. Findings discuss various facets and consequences of service failure that quickly become normal functioning in this institution. Descriptive themes and their interpretations follow and reveal that such treatment occurs because the men are viewed as less than fully human noncustomers who require strict control of need fulfillment. They react in a variety of ways that impact their ability to cope with this paucity of services. Recommendations for public service providers are presented along with implications for the larger service field.

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