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