Selling Advice: Escalation-oriented Practices and Resonance-sensitivity in Danish Retail Banking

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The Danish term ’bankrådgiver’, which is widely applied as the job-category of Danish retail bankers, literally translates as ’bank-advisor’; i.e. a person who offers advice on banking-related matters. Accordingly, ‘advising’ the customer and making sure their needs are met is a widely shared ideal among the 21 retail bankers interviewed for this study. As employees of a commercial enterprise, they are, however, also well aware that in addition to advising clients on pension-savings, investments, loans etc., their job is to sell the different financial solutions offered by the bank.
The strong normative orientation towards advising vis a vis the obligation to sell presents our informants with a dilemma that is emblematic of the “fundamental contradiction,” described by Harmut Rosa (2019, 401), between the longing for resonance and the reifying logic of escalation. According to Rosa the drive towards escalation and competition, represented by increasing one’s sales numbers, is at odds with resonance, here understood as responsive (client-)relationships characterized by intrinsic interests and adaptive transformation.
If we consider the everyday strategies pursued by well-situated actors in late modern circumstances (...) it seems that they follow two distinct potentially incompatible principles: that of increasing one’s share of the world and maximizing one’s resources, on the one hand, and that of enhancing resonance, on the other. (Rosa 2019, 369).
The dilemma of how to negotiate these potentially incompatible principles is the point of departure for this paper, which will explore the different ways in which Danish retail bankers deal with the desire for resonance and genuine connection with the client, on the one hand, and the obligation to maximize sales for their employer, on the other.
In doing so, the study explores the identity-work of the bankers through a normative theoretical framework, namely Hartmut Rosas resonance-theory, which is concerned with “(…) the question of the good life, or more precisely: the analysis of the social conditions under which a successful life is possible” (Rosa 2015, 67). As such, the study contributes to the research on organizational identity-work (eg. Brown 2015) where the question of the good life is arguably often an unspoken premise, but rarely made explicit.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe 10th Nordic Working Life Conference 2020: The Changing Nature of Nordic Working Life - Comwell Hvide Hus Aalborg Conference Centre, Ålborg, Denmark
Duration: 28 Sep 202029 Sep 2020
Conference number: 10


ConferenceThe 10th Nordic Working Life Conference 2020
LocationComwell Hvide Hus Aalborg Conference Centre
Internet address

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