An exploration through the organisational metaphor: The precarious work and emotional labour experienced by call centre employees in India.

Nageswaran, Preethi (2023) An exploration through the organisational metaphor: The precarious work and emotional labour experienced by call centre employees in India. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

The call centre industry is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors, providing job opportunities globally. However, the nature and characteristics of jobs in call centres mean the centres are referred to as ‘electronic sweatshops’ where the jobs are said to be “dead end” with no progression. Although the call centres provide customer service at a lower cost to the employer, the employees working in the call centres are highly affected by their job’s characteristics and nature, which includes poor remuneration and a highly routinised and strict performance monitoring process. India is considered a highly desirable location for Western organisations to outsource their customer service operations due to the low cost and the specific advantage of the massive pool of talented English-speaking graduates. However, contrary to the positive perspective of the country being a hub for call centre operations, the call centres are also said to suffer from a high employee turnover rate, stressful working environment, lack of career development, and poor infrastructure. These issues in Indian call centres can be related to precarious work and emotional labour experienced by the call centre agents which the researcher has explored in this study. Previous researchers have focused on precarious work and emotional labour in call centres as one aspect in their research studies but have failed to study both. Through organisational metaphors, the researcher explores precarious work and emotional labour in Indian call centres in this study. The uniqueness of the research is exploring the call centre industry through organisational metaphors. In the book “Images of Organization”, Gareth Morgan proposed eight organisational metaphors that can be consciously employed to study an organisation. In this study, the researcher has focussed on applying two of those metaphors, namely the machine and psychic prison, on giving more vital contributions to the precarious work and emotional labour experienced by Call centre employees in India. Based on the machine metaphor, the nature of precarious work is explored and inspired by the psychic prison metaphor; the researcher has explored the emotional labour in the Indian call centre industry. To the researcher’s knowledge, this study collectively provides a novel approach to studying precarious work and emotional labour through organisational metaphors. Both primary and secondary data collection has been employed. The qualitative research method was employed, focussing on thematic analysis. Semi-structured interviews were conducted among thirty call centre employees working in two different call centres which provide customer service to different customer bases. Secondary data was collected from books, journal articles, conference proceedings, reports, and trusted online resources. Eight themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews: five for precarious work and three for emotional labour. The five precarious work themes were analysed using the machine metaphor, and the three for emotional labour were analysed using the psychic prison metaphor. Based on the analysis, the researcher has presented the conceptual framework to comprehend the precarious work and emotional labour challenges that Indian call centre agents encounter daily. The research study also contributes to theory and the general body of knowledge and literature by employing organisational metaphors to study precarious work and emotional labour. Based on the research findings, future research has been recommended to focus on the different service sectors, to employ other organisational metaphors proposed by Gareth Morgan and employ the research in a wider context. Key Words: Precarious work, emotional labour, Indian call centres, machine metaphor, psychic prison metaphor

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Preethi Nageswaran
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2023 11:05
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2023 11:05
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/2513

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