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Call centre growth and location: corporate strategy ;and the spatial division of labour


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  • Gillian Bristow
  • Max Munday
  • Peter Gripaios


The authors contribute to the developing literature on call centres by providing detailed empirical evidence on the spatial unevenness in the distribution of call centre activity. They argue that the driving forces of call centre growth, whether as the rationalisation of back-office functions or as entirely new entities, have been corporate strategy and the pursuit of low-cost competitive advantage. Thus, although technological developments at the heart of call centre operations render them relatively 'footloose' in locational terms, the search for specific characteristics makes certain regions (and parts of regions) more attractive than others. By using a sample database of call centres, the authors describe the characteristics of call centres in the United Kingdom in terms of size, sector, and spatial distribution. They then attempt to explain the determinants of call centre location at the county level through a multiple regression analysis. The results indicate that there is a propensity to site call centres close to existing concentrations of allied activity, with preferences for densely populated areas mediated by needs to maintain employee access and avoid staff turnover problems. This has important implications for the spatial division of labour, with call centre growth likely to reinforce existing spatial unevenness in employment in key service activities. The authors conclude by considering the implications of these findings for contemporary urban and regional development, as well as providing a number of suggestions for future research.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning A.

Volume (Year): 32 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 519-538

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Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:32:y:2000:i:3:p:519-538

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Cited by:
  1. Ebru Seçkin, 2011. "The Location Behavior Of Call Centre Firms In Turkey," ERSA conference papers ersa11p742, European Regional Science Association.
  2. D Cassidy & J Sutherland, 2008. "Going Absent, Then Just Going? A Case Study Examination of Absence and Quitting," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, Economic Issues, vol. 13(2), pages 1-20, September.
  3. Beekman,. Michiel & Bruinsma, Frank & Rietveld, Piet, 2004. "ICT and the location of call centres: regional and local patterns," Serie Research Memoranda, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics 0026, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  4. Peter Gripaios, 2002. "The Failure of Regeneration Policy in Britain," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(5), pages 568-577.
  5. Chris Benner, 2006. "'South Africa On-call': Information Technology and Labour Market Restructuring in South African Call Centres," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(9), pages 1025-1040.
  6. Laaser, Claus-Friedrich & Soltwedel, Rüdiger, 2001. "Raumstruktur und New Economy - zur Bedeutung von E-commerce für die Arbeitsteilung im Raum," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) 2609, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  7. Laaser, Claus-Friedrich & Soltwedel, Rüdiger, 2002. "Internet, adjustment of firms and the spatial division of labour," ERSA conference papers ersa02p520, European Regional Science Association.
  8. Bruinsma, Frank & Rietveld, Piet & Beekman, Michiel, 2002. "Spatial diffusion patterns of call-centers in the Netherlands," ERSA conference papers ersa02p293, European Regional Science Association.
  9. J. N. Marshall & D. Bradley & C. Hodgson & N. Alderman & R. Richardson, 2005. "Relocation, relocation, relocation: Assessing the case for public sector dispersal," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 767-787.


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