Thursday, February 2, 2023

Processes as behavioral and value controls: The case of a telephone call center

Processes as behavioral and value controls: The case of a telephone call center: The telephone platform is characterized by a strong and restrictive presence of task implementation processes. In addition, unusual data appeared in “office work”: productivity and throughput, profitability, automated lines and so on. Individuals are therefore subject to increased and unique control. It is actually based on the process of carrying out surveillance and especially electronic surveillance and tasks imposed on narrators. We will focus on a specific company specializing in debt collection outsourcing. It is a task “unlike any other”, which invites disapproval and, above all, negative moral judgment from those who are asked to do it.

The starting point of our approach was observing the intensity of control and surveillance in this environment, of which we were at one point a part. Our study was conducted through a series of semi-structured interviews with call center employees. He admitted, what’s the point of this complex control system that seems “one-up” at first glance? We believe that this is by no means a question of “managerial clumsiness” or tyranny, but rather a question of a thought-out and rational management tool to manage the complex situation of possible or proven conflicts of values between hierarchy and actors. , this is the heart of our hypothesis in this work.


It’s a management challenge for seemingly routine “events” like call center agent monitoring software or excessive counterintelligence; Careful timing of break times, too “time-consuming” for hierarchies; Investigating equity and regulation; Why waste valuable hierarchical time heavily and intensively monitoring regular fluctuations in layout of workstations etc. when it has no significant impact on the productivity of individuals and also creates significant stress and tension? It is not automated, in fact, this type of operation is done in telephone call centers. While it is true that the technical environment in telephone platforms governs the work environment and relationships – because “these are the mechanisms of planning, allocation, control and management.

supervision of work that is in the process of being transformed by increased automation” (Johansson and Gauthronet, 1998, p. 7) – yet the nature of control systems depends on the political will of management. Indeed, “for some, this means more resources and possibilities for initiative; For others, increase work specialization. [In spite of all] the common feature of this development: the employee is the object of more control than in the past” (ibid., p. 8). So there is a place for the management arrangement of work and the nature of the employment relationship.


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