The Globalization of Service Work: Comparative Institutional Perspectives on Call Centers: Introduction to a Special Issue of ILRR

Ursula Holtgrewe, HORBA
David Holman, University of Sheffield
Publication Date:
Jan 2009
Project Programs:
Future of Work

This introduction to the special issue on the globalization of service work provides an overview of the call center sector and its development in coordinated, liberal market, and emerging market economies. The introduction’s authors situate this research in literature on the comparative political economy and industrial relations. Drawing on qualitative research and a unique survey of 2,500 establishments in 17 countries conducted in 2003–2006, they discuss the extent of convergence and divergence in management practices and employment relations. They also describe the research methodology for the overall research project, highlight its major findings, and summarize the contributions of the thematic papers covering several topics: unions’ role in shaping the quality of jobs; the factors that influence wage levels and wage inequality; the uses of contingent employment and their outcomes; the relationships among strategic human resource management, work design, and organizational outcomes; and the relationships among technology, selection, and training.


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