Articulation work skills and the recognition of call centre competences in Australia

Ian Hampson*, Anne Junor, Alison Barnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Debates over whether customer service work is deskilled or part of the knowledge economy tend to focus on single issues such as control, emotional labour or information management. Call centre work, however, falls within a spectrum of service jobs requiring simultaneous and multifaceted work with people, information and technology, This activity, which we call 'articulation work', is often performed within tight timeframes and requires workers, first, to integrate their own tasks into an ongoing 'line' of work, and second, to collaborate in maintaining the overall work-flow. The requisite skills, of awareness, interaction management and coordination, tend to be poorly specified in competency standards that subdivide work into discrete tasks. We compare examples of call centre competency standards with case study accounts of the use of articulation work skills, arguing the need for a taxonomy allowing the recognition of different levels of these skills across the service sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Articulation work
  • Call centres
  • Competency-based training
  • Interactive customer service
  • Skills

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