Cornell University

Global Call Center Project

169 Ives Faculty Building, 607-254-4437

South Africa

National Country Report

Benner, C., Rahmat, O. and Lewis, C. (2007) The South African Call Center Industry: National Benchmarking Report, Strategy, HR Practices & Performance. Johannesburg:  Sociology of Work Unit and LINK Center, University of Witwatersrand.

For more information on the South Africa Project, see http://link.wits.ac.za/.

Highlights of the National Report

The dramatic global growth of call centers represents a potentially valuable employment opportunity for South Africa.  Indeed the number of call centers in the country has grown rapidly since the early 1990s.  They now employ approximately 80,000 people and have a projected 15-20% annual growth for the foreseeable future.  Recognizing the potential for future growth based on the international market, the South African government and local economic development agencies have developed prominent marketing campaigns designed to attract call center business from Europe and the U.S.  Though India and the Philippines have higher profiles as prime off-shoring locations, recent assessments see South Africa as being able to compete effectively in attracting international investment.   In the context of 40% unemployment, even modest growth is attractive for economic development.

Publications

Omar, R. 2005. ‘New Work Order or More of the Same: Call Centers in South Africa’. In Webster, EC. & Von Holdt, K. (eds.). Beyond the Apartheid Workplace: Studies in Transition. Durban: University of KwaZulu Natal Press.

Benner, Chris. 2006. “‘South Africa On-Call’: Information Technology and Labour Restructuring in South African Call Centers” Regional Studies

South African Research Team

Our involvement with the Global Call Center Survey project began in 2003, when Rahmat Omar (who was completing an in-depth study of call center workers in a single telecommunications firm) administered a version of the survey to 31 firms.  Chris Benner joined the project in 2004, after having conducted detailed research on the size, character, and competitive dynamics of the call center sector in the country.  He supervised the survey of another 33 firms (thanks to Bronwyn Dworzanowski for administering the surveys).  Charley Lewis joined the project in late 2005, and is supervising the qualitative case study component of the research project.

Chris Benner
Assistant Professor of Geography &
Labor Studies and Industrial Relations
Department of Geography
The Pennsylvania State University
302 Walker Bldg
University Park, PA  16802
cbenner@psu.edu
http://www.geog.psu.edu/people/benner/

Charley Lewis
LINK Centre
Box 81185, Parkhurst, 2120
South Africa
http://link.wits.ac.za

Rahmat Omar, Faculty of Education
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville, South Africa 7535
raomar@uwc.ac.za

Co-Sponsors of the Report: U. of Witwatersrand, U. of the Western Cape to the South Africa, Pennsylvania State University, Rod Jones Strategic Solutions

For more information, contact Chris Benner at cbenner@psu.edu or
Charley Lewis at lewis.c@pdm.wits.ac.za.