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


  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gillian Bristow & Max Munday & Peter Gripaios, 2000. "Call centre growth and location: corporate strategy ;and the spatial division of labour," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 32(3), pages 519-538, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:32:y:2000:i:3:p:519-538

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    Cited by:

    1. Beekman,. Michiel & Bruinsma, Frank & Rietveld, Piet, 2004. "ICT and the location of call centres: regional and local patterns," Serie Research Memoranda 0026, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    2. Bruinsma, Frank & Rietveld, Piet & Beekman, Michiel, 2002. "Spatial diffusion patterns of call-centers in the Netherlands," ERSA conference papers ersa02p293, European Regional Science Association.
    3. 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 2609, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Peter Gripaios & Paul Bishop, 2005. "Spatial inequalities in UK GDP per head: The role of private and public services," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(8), pages 945-958, December.
    5. Chris Benner, 2006. "'South Africa On-call': Information Technology and Labour Market Restructuring in South African Call Centres," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(9), pages 1025-1040.
    6. J Howells & B Tether & F Gallouj & F Djellal & C Gallouj & K Blind & J Edler & C Hipp & F Montobbio & N Corrocher & A Macpherson & D Banach, 2004. "Innovation in Services: Issues at Stake and Trends," Working Papers halshs-01113600, HAL.
    7. 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, vol. 39(6), pages 767-787.
    8. Laaser, Claus-Friedrich & Soltwedel, Rüdiger, 2002. "Internet, adjustment of firms and the spatial division of labour," ERSA conference papers ersa02p520, European Regional Science Association.
    9. D Cassidy & J Sutherland, 2008. "Going Absent, Then Just Going? A Case Study Examination of Absence and Quitting," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 13(2), pages 1-20, September.
    10. Ebru Seçkin, 2011. "The Location Behavior Of Call Centre Firms In Turkey," ERSA conference papers ersa11p742, European Regional Science Association.
    11. Cédric Brunelle, 2013. "The Growing Economic Specialization of Cities: Disentangling Industrial and Functional Dimensions in the Canadian Urban System, 1971–2006," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 443-473, September.
    12. Peter Gripaios, 2002. "The Failure of Regeneration Policy in Britain," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(5), pages 568-577.

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