Smiling Down the Line: Info-Service Work in the Global Economy

Bob Russell

© 2009

Just as textile mills and automotive assembly plants have symbolized previous economic eras, the call centre stands as a potent reminder of the importance of information in contemporary economies. Bob Russell's Smiling Down the Line theorizes call centre work as info-service employment and looks at the effects of ever-changing technologies on service work, its associated skills, and the ways in which it is managed. Russell also considers globalization and contemporary managerial practices as centres are outsourced to poorer countries such as India and as new forms of management are introduced, refined, and discarded.

Invoking extensive labour force surveys and interviews from Australia and India, Russell examines employee representation, work intensity, stress, emotional labour, and job skills in the call centre work environment. The cross-national approach of Smiling Down the Line highlights the effects of globalization and scrutinizes the similarities and differences that exist in info-service work between different industries and in different countries.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP002681

  • PUBLISHED SEP 2009

    From: $28.46

    Regular Price: $37.95

    ISBN 9781442609815
  • PUBLISHED SEP 2009

    From: $27.71

    Regular Price: $36.95

Quick Overview

Smiling Down the Line theorizes call centre work as info-service employment and looks at the effects of ever-changing technologies on service work, its associated skills, and the ways in which it is managed.

Smiling Down the Line: Info-Service Work in the Global Economy

Bob Russell

© 2009

Just as textile mills and automotive assembly plants have symbolized previous economic eras, the call centre stands as a potent reminder of the importance of information in contemporary economies. Bob Russell's Smiling Down the Line theorizes call centre work as info-service employment and looks at the effects of ever-changing technologies on service work, its associated skills, and the ways in which it is managed. Russell also considers globalization and contemporary managerial practices as centres are outsourced to poorer countries such as India and as new forms of management are introduced, refined, and discarded.

Invoking extensive labour force surveys and interviews from Australia and India, Russell examines employee representation, work intensity, stress, emotional labour, and job skills in the call centre work environment. The cross-national approach of Smiling Down the Line highlights the effects of globalization and scrutinizes the similarities and differences that exist in info-service work between different industries and in different countries.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'Smiling Down the Line is highly recommended for any scholar interested in the transformation of globalized work, the effects of information and communication technologies on the technical and social division of labour, and managerial attempts to control labour process in the new economy... it stands out due to its rigour and in-depth analysis of info-services work in call centres and as a portrait of work and employment in contemporary capitalism.'
    José-Luis Álvarez-Galvan
    British Journal of Industrial Relations: vol49:02:2011
  • Author Information

    Bob Russell is an associate professor in the Department of Employment Relations at Griffith Business School, Griffith University.

  • Table of contents

    List of Tables and Figures
    List of Abbreviations
    Acknowledgments

    1. New Workplaces: The Call Centre
    1.1 Introduction
    1.2 The Three Changes
    1.2.1 ICTs and the Technical Division of Labour
    1.2.2 Globalization and the Social Division of Labour
    1.2.3 Beyond Consent? Managerialism and Human Resource Management
    1.3 The Rest of the Book

    2. The Call-Centre Case Studies
    2.1 Studying Call Centres: Methodological Matters
    2.2 The Centres
    2.3 Summary

    3. Making a New Occupation
    3.1 Introduction
    3.2 The Recruitment and Selection of Call Centre Labour
    3.3 Employment Status
    3.4 Training
    3.5 'Shall I Stay or Shall I Go?': Attrition and Retention in Call Centres

    4. The Call-Centre Labour Process (1): The Division of Labour, Work Effort, and Job Skill
    4.1 Introduction
    4.2 Experiencing the Labour Process: Work Intensity and the Effort Bargain
    4.3 Call Centres and Job Skills
    4.4 Emotional Labour in Call Centres
    4.5 Conclusions

    5. The Call-Centre Labour Process (2): Technological Selection and the Means of Communication in Info-Service Work
    5.1 Introduction
    5.2 Theoretical Issues
    5.3.1 The Case Study: What Did Management Want?
    5.3.2 Between the Cup and the Lip: The Adoption of CMS
    5.4 Conclusions

    6. HRM and Call Centres: Culture and Identities
    6.1 Introduction
    6.2 HRM in Call Centres
    6.3 Identity in the Call Centre
    6.4 Accounting for Organizational Identities
    6.5 Conclusions

    7. Globalizing Info-Service Work: Outsourcing to India (with Mohan Thite)
    7.1 Introduction
    7.2 The BPO Case Studies
    7.3 Skills and the Global Division of Labour
    7.4 Work Intensity
    7.5 HRM and Identity in BPO
    7.6 The Contradictions of BPO
    7.7 Conclusions

    8. Discontent, Resistance, and Organizing in Info-Service Work
    8.1 Introduction: Work Relations in Call Centres
    8.2 From Partners to Pariahs: Unions in Australian Employment
    8.3 From Resistance to Organizing, or Organizing as Resistance: Unions in Call Centres
    8.4 Unionization in the Australian Case-Study Sites
    8.5 A Postscript from Australia: Work Choices and Beyond
    8.6 A Note on Resistance and Organization in Indian BPOs

    9. Concluding Remarks
    Notes
    References
    Index

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