The Demise of the Bank Branch Manager - The Depersonalisation and Disembedding of Modern British Banking
Vik, P 2014, The Demise of the Bank Branch Manager - The Depersonalisation and Disembedding of Modern British Banking, PhD Thesis, University of Salford, Salford, UK.
This thesis looked at the development of the role of the bank branch manager since the 1960s with the purpose of shedding light on the nature, drivers and impact of the transformation of British branch banking in this period. The analysis was based on interviews with former branch managers and revealed that the role of the branch manager as a skilled, authoritative and autonomous craftsman balancing the needs of customers, staff and the bank was increasingly coming under threat from the late 1970s onwards. The branch manager lost a great deal of authority and responsibility for customer outcomes through the introduction of credit scoring and through the removal of business lending from branches. Further, the introduction and intensification of targets reduced his or her discretion and autonomy.
Although it is implicit in much of the literature, the original contribution of this thesis lies in its conceptualisation of the depersonalisation, the move from case-to-case judgements to rule-bound impersonal decisions, and the disembedding of banking, the detachment of service provision from social networks, by drawing on Weber, Granovetter, Giddens and Luhmann. Importantly, the agency of branch managers as gatekeepers, which lies at the intersection of skill, authority and autonomy, is central in making services embedded and personalised.
It is argued that the progressive liberalisation of financial markets had a dual impact on banking and the role of the bank branch manager. First, it led to the depersonalisation of banking and the disembedding of the bank branch from local communities and customers. Second, financial liberalisation deskilled and disempowered the bank branch manager. The demise of the traditional bank branch manager through these dynamics changed the role of branches from originators of financial services to retail outlets for centrally branded, designed and controlled products.
Publisher / Institution
University of Salford