'Teaming up': Teams and team sharing in call centres

Diane van den Broek*, Alison Barnes, Keith Townsend

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Call centre work is highly individualistic and technologically regulated. Processes, scripts and company procedures are usually standardized. As such there is a fundamental irony in the fact that most call centre operations organize their workforce around team structures. In recent years, much of the research has identified how teams might lead to the workers shifting toward a shared firm identity and sociability, either voluntarily or through an involuntary internalization of managerial objectives. However other factors have not been fully investigated in the team literature. In this article we analyse how workers might 'team up' to ameliorate the relentless conditions of work through collaboratively manoeuvring around call centre technologies as well as 'teaming up' around customer relations. We provide a counter argument to both the 'teams are good for business' position, and the 'teams provide self imposed cages for workers to compete with each other' argument. Control and resistance remain an important factor in analysing teams in call centres, while shallow and short-lived team arrangements might provide important social mechanisms for worker support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-269
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Call centres
  • Control
  • Resistance
  • Teams


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