Humanoid Social Robots and the Reconfiguration of Customer Service

Gabriella Volpe, Matthias Schulte-Althoff, David Dillmann, Emmanuelle Maurer, Yannic Niedenzu, Philipp Schließer, Daniel Fürstenau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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This paper reports on several studies in the context of implementing the humanoid social robot Pepper in a financial institution. The results show that the robot can affect the boundary relations between the roles of customer and service worker differently from common-sense expectations. While employees initially feared to be automated away by the robot, the results suggest that the relationship is more likely to change through an emotional bonding to the robot being projected to the company deploying it. Therefore, the robot might, at least partially, assume the role of the service worker as an ambassador of the company, which could recede more into the background in this regard. We discuss the implications of our findings in the context of current literature on the changing boundary relations through robot innovations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of Digital Work: The Challenge of Inequality : IFIP WG 8.2, 9.1, 9.4 Joint Working Conference, IFIPJWC 2020 Hyderabad, India, December 10–11, 2020. Proceedings
EditorsRajendra K. Bandi, Ranjini C. R., Stefan Klein, Shirin Madon, Eric Monteiro
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2020
Article number252779
ISBN (Print)9783030646967
ISBN (Electronic)9783030646974
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventIFIP Joint Working Conference 2020 - Online/Zoom - managed by University of Oslo Computing Centre
Duration: 10 Dec 202011 Dec 2020


ConferenceIFIP Joint Working Conference 2020
LocationOnline/Zoom - managed by University of Oslo Computing Centre
Internet address
SeriesIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology


  • Humanoid robots
  • Actor-network theory
  • Emotions
  • Intelligence
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Attachment
  • Boundary relations

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