Research Output

The Psychological Contract in Call Centres: An Employee Perspective

  The call centre industry is a relatively recent phenomenon, which has changed the face of the service sector (Frenkel et al., 1998). For a comparatively new contender it has created a large share of internal human resource problems. Common issues of contention for call centres include high levels of churn, high levels of absenteeism, issues with motivation and commitment, lack of career progression opportunities and loss of agents following investment in training and development (Bain and Taylor, 2000). Many of these issues may be attributed to both a lack of understanding and violation of the psychological contract. This article specifically examines the psychological contract, through the use of a case study and analysis of interviews conducted with call centre agents. A number of interesting issues arose with regard to the formation, causes and consequences of their psychological contracts. The main finding is that two types of psychological contract coexisted. While everyone interviewed for this research was employed to perform the same role, the terms of their employment contracts differed greatly and this carried through to the type of psychological contract on offer to them. Permanent employees generally enjoyed relational psychological contract with expectations, content and consequences that reflect this model of the contract. While contract workers were subject to a transitional model with minimal mutual obligations. Implications for practice and further research are explored in light of these findings.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 April 2008

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    SAGE Publications

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    658 General management


Cross, C., Barry, G., & Garavan, T. N. (2008). The Psychological Contract in Call Centres: An Employee Perspective. Journal of Industrial Relations, 50(2), 229-242.



call centres; Ireland; psychological contract; temporary employees

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