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India calling to the far away towns: the call centre labour process and globalization

Taylor, P. and Bain, P.M. (2005) India calling to the far away towns: the call centre labour process and globalization. Work, Employment and Society, 19 (2). pp. 261-282. ISSN 0959-0170

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Abstract

In recent years prominent companies have migrated call centre services to India provoking much-publicized fears for the future of UK employment. This article challenges the widely-held assumption that offshoring voice services is a seamless undertaking, principally through an investigation of the Indian call centre labour process. This enquiry is informed initially by an analysis of the political-economic factors driving offshoring and shaping the forms of work organization to have emerged in India. A critical review of literature on call centre work organization provides a conceptual framework, through which Indian developments are analysed. Data comes from fieldwork conducted in India and a complete audit of the Scottish industry, through which UK trends can be evaluated. We conclude that the Indian industry reproduces in exaggerated and culturally-distinctive forms, a labour process that has proved problematical for employers and employees alike in the UK and elsewhere.