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(Not)hanging on the telephone: payment systems in the new sweatshops

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  • Fernie, Sue
  • Metcalf, David

Abstract

'The ultimate objective of empirical work on incentives should be to find out why firms use the compensation systems they doàhuge advances in our understanding could be made by a concerted effort to collect data on contracts.'' So concludes the 1998 Journal of Economic Literature survey on compensation systems. This paper does just that. It presents very detailed case study evidence on contracts in four organizations, three of which are call centres, the fastest growing sector of employment in the UK. This evidence is used to test predictions from the New Economics of Personnel (NEP) concerning the incidence of payment systems. We also contrast and test predictions from NEP with those of the earlier British Institutional School, which anticipated many of NEP''s ideas on payment systems. Variations in the ratio of performance-related to basic pay among our organizations can, broadly, be explained by the costs and benefits of monitoring inputs and measuring output, which comprises the core of NEP. Indeed, the monitoring of our case study employees is the theme which binds the paper together û for call centres Jeremy Bentham''s 1791 Panopticon was truly the vision of the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernie, Sue & Metcalf, David, 1998. "(Not)hanging on the telephone: payment systems in the new sweatshops," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20275, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20275
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/20275/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Phil Taylor & Gareth Mulvey & Jeff Hyman & Peter Bain, 2002. "Work Organization, Control and the Experience of Work in Call Centres," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 16(1), pages 133-150, March.
    2. Dunja VujiÄ ić & Ana JoviÄ ić & Danijela Lalić & Snježana Gagić & Aleksandar Cvejanov, 2015. "The relation between job insecurity, job satisfaction and organizational commitment among employees in the tourism sector in Novi Sad," Economic and Industrial Democracy, Department of Economic History, Uppsala University, Sweden, vol. 36(4), pages 633-652, November.
    3. 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.
    4. Alex J Wood & Mark Graham & Vili Lehdonvirta & Isis Hjorth, 2019. "Good Gig, Bad Gig: Autonomy and Algorithmic Control in the Global Gig Economy," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 33(1), pages 56-75, February.
    5. James, Kieran, 2008. "A Critical Theory perspective on the pressures, contradictions and dilemmas faced by entry-level accounting academics," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 1263-1295.
    6. Keith Townsend, 2007. "Who Has Control in Teams without Teamworking?," Economic and Industrial Democracy, Department of Economic History, Uppsala University, Sweden, vol. 28(4), pages 622-649, November.
    7. Phil Taylor & Chris Baldry & Peter Bain & Vaughan Ellis, 2003. "`A Unique Working Environment': Health, Sickness and Absence Management in UK Call Centres," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 17(3), pages 435-458, September.
    8. Rosemary Batt & Hiroatsu Nohara & Hyunji Kwon, 2010. "Employer Strategies and Wages in New Service Activities: A Comparison of Co‐ordinated and Liberal Market Economies," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(2), pages 400-435, June.
    9. Michael Fisher, 2004. "The Crisis of Civil Service Trade Unionism: A Case Study of Call Centre Development in a Civil Service Agency," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 18(1), pages 157-177, March.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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