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Journal cover: Employee Relations

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Online from: 1979

Subject Area: Human Resource Management

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Call centres, quality of work life and HRM practices: An in-house/outsourced comparison

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Title:Call centres, quality of work life and HRM practices: An in-house/outsourced comparison
Author(s):Julia Connell, (School of Management, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia), Zeenobiyah Hannif, (School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Commerce, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Citation:Julia Connell, Zeenobiyah Hannif, (2009) "Call centres, quality of work life and HRM practices: An in-house/outsourced comparison", Employee Relations, Vol. 31 Iss: 4, pp.363 - 381
Keywords:Australia, Call centres, Human resource management, Job satisfaction
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/01425450910965423 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The paper seeks to determine whether and how the quality of working life (QWL) varies between call centres (CCs) in the in-house/outsourced, public and private sectors and the implications of these findings on human resource management (HRM).

Design/methodology/approach – This paper reports on findings derived through empirical qualitative case study research in two Australian CCs: Govtcall, an in-house, public-sector CC, and Salesplus, an outsourced, private-sector CC. Quality of work life outcomes are determined through in-depth interviews with CSOs, supervisors and managers, where a comparative approach is utilised.

Findings – The in-house, public-sector CC Govtcall emerges as being inferior in terms of job content, working hours and managerial/supervisory style and strategies. Conversely, Salesplus features a management model that is more akin to what would be expected in a CC operating under a professional service model.

Research limitations/implications – The sample size was limited to two CCs; thus, the findings may not be representative of the wider CC context.

Practical implications – A productivity orientation and employee focus are not a mutually exclusive phenomenon. Union presence and public-sector status do not guarantee better working conditions and higher QWL. Managerial styles and strategies have a significant impact on QWL in the CC context.

Originality/value – QWL is an under-researched area where CCs are concerned. Similarly, much of the existing CC research is based on the private sector, despite the public sector emerging as a large user of CC operations.

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