Patterns and motivations of successful women pursuing their careers in New Zealand call centres

Vivienne Hunt (University of Auckland Business School, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Erling Rasmussen (Faculty of Business, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration

ISSN: 1757-4323

Publication date: 28 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is to report on the experience of women working in New Zealand call centres after finding contrary evidence in the international research which suggests call centre work does not offer career opportunities for its mainly female workforce. The research seeks to explore the career progress of women in a selection of call centres to determine whether the New Zealand employment relations context contributed to outcomes different to those reported in the international research.


Case study methodology and six different call centre types were used to find 32 women who had experienced career progress. Semi‐structured in‐depth interviews were held with the women and senior management representatives at each organisation. Analysis of interview transcripts identified common themes and patterns across the case studies. Insights were gained from survey responses from 60 entry‐level workers, many of whom were return‐to‐work mothers, new immigrants or students.


The findings demonstrated that women were achieving considerable career success in the call centres investigated. Management practices accommodated their different labour market needs and respondents spoke about their passion and enjoyment of call centre work. The entry‐level workers reported that being part of the call centre workplace, allowed them to meet people, develop new skills and confidence while enhancing their career prospects. At many levels, call centre processes seemed to have enabled respondents to become competent, connected and confident workers.


Contrary to the international portrayal of call centre work and the career prospects for female workers the paper highlights the need for researchers to link employment outcomes to particular employment contexts.



Hunt, V. and Rasmussen, E. (2010), "Patterns and motivations of successful women pursuing their careers in New Zealand call centres", Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 167-184.

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