Human resource management and the permeable organization: The case of the multi-client call centre

Jill Rubery, Marilyn Carroll, Fang Lee Cooke, Irena Grugulis, Jill Earnshaw

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the interest over recent years in the fragmentation of organizations and the development of contracting, little attention has been paid to the impact of the associated inter-organizational relationships on the internal organization of employment. Inter-organizational relations have been introduced primarily as a means of externalizing - and potentially rendering invisible - employment issues and employment relations. In a context where inter-organizational relationships appear to be growing in volume and diversity, this constitutes a significant gap in the literature that this paper in part aims to fill. The purpose of the paper is two-fold: to develop a framework for considering the internal and external organizational influences on employment and to apply this framework within a case study of a multi-client outsourcing call centre. We explore the interactions between internal objectives, client demands and the use of external contracting in relation to three dimensions of employment policy: managing the wage-effort bargain, managing flexibility and managing commitment and performance. It is the interplay between these factors in a dynamic context that provides, we suggest, the basis for a more general framework for considering human resource policy in permeable organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1199-1222
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004

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