Cornell University

Global Call Center Project

169 Ives Faculty Building, 607-254-4437

SpainSpain

National Country Report

Valverde, M., Gorjup, M. T., Martí, N., Ryan, G., & Villarroya, M. 2006. The Call Center Sector in Spain: Performance, Strategies and Human Resource Management Practices (El sector de call centers en España: Funcionamiento, estrategias y prácticas de recursos humanos). Grup de Recerca Factor Humà, Organitzacions i Mercats (FHOM), Departament de Gestió d’Empreses, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain.

Highlights of National Report

In Spain, the call center industry is relatively new. Development and large-scale expansion did not begin until the late 1990s, when many other traditional call center locations were already beginning to experience a slow-down in growth.  Since then, Spain has experienced spectacular growth in this sector.

According to the IMADE (2003) report, Spain is the sixth largest European country in terms of the number of call centers.  Near the end of 2002, Spain had between 1,200-1,500 call centers, with a 10% growth rate.  According to the Spanish Ministry of Economy (2002), in the year 2000, the industry grossed €900 million in revenues.

One of the overriding characteristics of Spanish call centers is their varying size. Although the majority of call centers employ between 10 and 30 operators, there are also a significant number of large centers with up to 2000 operators.

Employment

Similar to other countries, call centers are intensive in the use of the human factor, with an over proportionate representation of women (75.5%). The types of relationship between companies and workers are widely varied due to the characteristics of work in the sector, but also to the tendency of Spanish companies to use temporary contracts: indeed, 71.6% of call centers use temporary contracts. The intensity of the use of temporary contracts is higher in outsourced call centers, with an average of 64.1% of temporary employees in outsourced call centers.

HRM outcomes

In general the level of autonomy of workers in Spanish call centers is moderate to limited. Some practices are detected with the aim of encouraging worker participation, and many call centers have them in operation (such as 68.7% of call centers with semi-autonomous working groups and 69.7% with quality circles or improvement teams), but these are applied to a limited number of employees (no more than one quarter). Regarding levels of turnover, these are very high, but more than half of call centers do not deem this is a problem, with one third considering their turnover levels too high to the point of creating operational and cost problems. Finally, absenteeism levels are commensurate with those of other industries.

Spanish Research Team

The national team for the survey in Spain is located at the ‘Universitat Rovira i Virgili’ in the city of Reus, in the autonomous region of Catalonia (Capital: Barcelona). The Spanish survey team is an international and diverse one, with members from Spain, Argentina and Ireland, and specializations in HRM, Strategic Management, Marketing and Economics. In 2005, the team carried out a study of the current state of the call center sector in the autonomous region of Catalonia for CIDEM, the investment body of the Catalan regional government.

Mireia Valverde, Associate Professor
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Av. de la Universitat, 1
43204 Reus, Tarragona
Catalonia, Spain
mireia.valverde@urv.cat

Gerard Ryan, Assistant Professor
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Av. de la Universitat, 1
43204 Reus, Tarragona
Catalonia, Spain
gerard.ryan@urv.cat
www.gerardryan.com

María Tatiana Gorjup
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Av. de la Universitat, 1
43204 Reus, Tarragona
Catalonia, Spain
mariatatiana.gorjup@urv.cat

Publications

Valverde, M.; Ryan, G.; Gorjup, M.T. (2007) An examination of the quality of jobs in the call center industry. International Advances in Economic Research, Vol. 13, No.2 (forthcoming).

Valverde, M.; Gorjup, M.T.; Martí, N.; Ryan, G.; Vidal, A.; Villarroya, M. (2006) Els call-centers a nivell internacional: Factors diferencials de Catalunya en l'àmbit dels centres d'atenció telefònica. Barcelona: CIDEM.

Gorjup, M.T.; Valverde, M.; Ryan, G. (2006). ¿Como medir la calidad del trabajo? Generación de un índice para la detección de buenos y malos trabajos en el sector de Call Centers. IV Congreso de Metodología de Encuestas. Pamplona, septiembre.

Ryan, G.; Valverde, M.; Gorjup, M.T. (2006) An analysis of job quality in the technology mediated workplace. EGOS Colloquim, Bergen (Norway), July.

Ryan, G.; Valverde, M.; Gorjup, M.T. (2006) Delivering the Promises of the Information Society: Evidence of Good and Bad Jobs in the Call Center. The 61st International Atlantic Economic Conference. Berlin (Germany), March.

Co-Sponsors of the Report: AIRE program (University Rovira & Virgili); CIDEM (Catalan Government)

For more information, contact Mireia Valverde at mireia.valverde@urv.cat. View more information about GCC Project Spain.