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Coping Strategies in Call Centres: Work Intensity and the Role of Co-workers and Supervisors

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  • Stephen J. Deery
  • Roderick D. Iverson
  • Janet T. Walsh

Abstract

It has been observed that customer service workers often develop mutually supportive coping strategies to protect themselves from the emotional strain of overwork. These strategies can receive tacit support from supervisors, who may accept them as a means of getting the work done. The study explores the impact of a number of different forms of support on emotional exhaustion among a group of 480 call centre workers focusing, in particular, on the role of supportive behaviours relating to absence taking. The research shows that a supportive co-worker absence culture and team leader absence permissiveness can lessen the effects of job demands on emotional exhaustion and improve worker well-being. The implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen J. Deery & Roderick D. Iverson & Janet T. Walsh, 2010. "Coping Strategies in Call Centres: Work Intensity and the Role of Co-workers and Supervisors," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 181-200, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:48:y:2010:i:1:p:181-200
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    File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8543.2009.00755.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George Callaghan, 2002. "'We Recruit Attitude': The Selection and Shaping of Routine Call Centre Labour," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 233-254, March.
    2. Stephen Deery, 2002. "Work Relationships in Telephone Call Centres: Understanding Emotional Exhaustion and Employee Withdrawal," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(4), pages 471-496, June.
    3. Randy Hodson, 2008. "The Ethnographic Contribution to Understanding Co-worker Relations," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(1), pages 169-192, March.
    4. David Knights, 1998. "'What Happens when the Phone goes Wild?': Staff, Stress and Spaces for Escape in a BPR Telephone Banking Work Regime," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 163-194, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cohen, Nicola & Richardson, James, 2015. "‘I didn't feel like I was alone anymore’: evaluating self-organised employee coping practices conducted via Facebook," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65024, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Daniel Nyberg & Graham Sewell, 2014. "Collaboration, Co-operation or Collusion? Contrasting Employee Responses to Managerial Control in Three Call Centres," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(2), pages 308-332, June.

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