The technicization of sales work: An ethnographic study in the US electronics industry

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When do salespeople become technical experts, and when does sales work become technical in nature? To address these questions, this study presents a typology of markets and compares the impact of the structure of knowledge on the organization of sales practices in a mass and in a non-standard market in the electronics industry. a year-long ethnographic study in the United States shows that the technicization of sales occurs only in the non-standard market, in which buyers do not possess knowledge on products' quality and in which no common image of use exists. The technicization of sales is manifested in a larger percentage of engineers in the sales force, an infusion of engineering knowledge into initial sales interactions, and in a greater dependence on social and interactive skills. The technization of sales is further compounded by the need to communicate contextual knowledge, Co-development and shared practice emerge as dominant forms of work organization in the non-standard market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-65
Number of pages19
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002


  • Customization work
  • Sociology of work
  • Technical sales work
  • Technicization of sales
  • Technology and work organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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