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Global or National? An International Comparison of Call Centre’s

In spite of globalization, working conditions in call centers around the world are still governed by national regulations. That was the result of a major study supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which looked at 2,400 call centers in 17 countries. As a follow-up to this study, the FWF is now funding further international analyses and case studies that will compare conditions in Austrian call centres with those in other countries.

Throughout the world, the number of call centres is growing. These facilities offer companies aiming to achieve effective forms of customer care a great deal of flexibility. Working conditions are often atypical with staff being employed on a temporary or freelance basis, for example, and cutting-edge technologies mean that operations can easily be outsourced to other locations, at home or abroad.

The employment conditions in call centres throughout the world have now been investigated as part of the Global Call Center Industry Project, coordinated by Cornell University (USA), the Institute of Work Psychology (UK) and FORBA (the Working Life Research Centre, Austria). This international project set out to analyse whether the global spread of call centres is being accompanied by a growing convergence in working conditions. Or whether the opposite is the case, i.e. whether working conditions at these call centres continue to be shaped by national standards and rules. The study has found that call centres are perhaps not as "global" as one might assume. For example, working conditions at call centres in coordinated market economies such as Austria, Germany and Denmark are significantly better than in liberal market economies such as the UK and USA.