Management strategies in call centres face a series of tensions stemming from conflicts between achieving efficiency and providing a quality service to the customer. Recent research suggests high commitment management (HCM) techniques are being applied in call centres in a paradoxical strategy of ‘low discretion, high commitment’(LDHC). This article presents case findings on four British call centres that confirm the LDHC model but suggest that it operates in a variety of forms. By characterising the research sites according to the combined dimensions of HCM orientation and job design implementation, a typology of LDHC approaches is proposed. These are containment, alleviation, structured employee development and involvement. In essence, the LDHC model is an attempt to reconcile the costs of control with the levers of commitment. However, an examination of the realities of LDHC in action reveals a varied but persistent pull towards control. Fundamentally this exposes LDHC as a substitute for, rather than a reflection of, commitment.
Human Resource Management Journal – Wiley
Published: Nov 1, 2002
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