the indian ites bpo industry mobility and immobility in contemporary capitalism l.
Skip this Video
Download Presentation
The Indian ITES-BPO Industry: Mobility and Immobility in Contemporary Capitalism

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 36

The Indian ITES-BPO Industry: Mobility and Immobility in Contemporary Capitalism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

The Indian ITES-BPO Industry: Mobility and Immobility in Contemporary Capitalism. Debra Howcroft CRESC and MBS University of Manchester ECIME Göteborg 2009. The Re-emergence of Capitalism. Klein N (2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'The Indian ITES-BPO Industry: Mobility and Immobility in Contemporary Capitalism' - teva

Download Now An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
the indian ites bpo industry mobility and immobility in contemporary capitalism

The Indian ITES-BPO Industry:Mobility and Immobility in Contemporary Capitalism

Debra Howcroft


University of Manchester

ECIME Göteborg 2009

the re emergence of capitalism
The Re-emergence of Capitalism
  • Klein N (2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
  • Porritt J (2007) Capitalism as if the World Matters
  • Glyn A (2007) Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization and Welfare
  • Sennett R (2007) The Culture of Capitalism
  • Castells M (2004) ‘informational capitalism’
new spirits of capitalism
New Spirits of Capitalism
  • The spirit is: ‘the set of beliefs associated with the capitalist order that helps to justify this order and, by legitimating them, to sustain the forms of action and predispositions compatible with it’ (Boltanski and Chiapello 2007: 10)
  • Three spirits
    • Third spirit is of globalised capitalism, a connexionist world of multiple projects performed by autonomous people
“….the specific contribution of little people to enrichment in a connexionist world, and the source of their exploitation by great men, consists precisely in that which constitutes their weakness in this framework – that is to say, their immobility”
  • (Boltanski and Chiapello 2007: 361)
globalization 3 0
“The most important force shaping global economics and politics in the early twenty-first century is a triple convergence - of new players, on a new playing field, developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration."

"The 'hot line,' which used to connect the Kremlin with the White House has been replaced by the 'help line,' which connects everyone in America to call centers in Bangalore."

Globalization 3.0
ites bpo industry
ITES-BPO Industry
  • BPO predicted to overtake ITO in next 5 years (Oshri et al 2009)
  • The term captures:
  • customer facing, voice activities
  • non-customer facing, back office activities
  • ‘end-to-end’ integrated services
why india
Why India?
  • Still seen as paving the way among developing countries (Taylor and Bain 2005; Nasscom-Everest 2008)
  • Most of the export of IT and ITES go to the UK and US (UNCTAD 2004)
  • Offshoring largely follows the contours of linguistic and cultural compatibility, arising from the legacy of empire and colonialism
  • Horizontals
    • Processes that are seen as being similar across industries (Customer interaction and support, finance and accounting, HRM, procurement services, and knowledge services)
  • Verticals
    • Processes which require vertical-specific knowledge and are not easily replicable across industries, such as claims processing for the insurance industry or credit card collections for the credit services industry

(Nasscom-Everest 2008)





Indian BPO industry continues to grow rapidly

Indian BPO Sector Revenue

(USD billion, percentage)



  • Higher process maturity and quality of output
  • Increasing proportion of non-voice work (e.g., transaction processing, research etc.) likely to be outsourced over the next two – three years
  • Higher competition for lower end BPO services
  • Emergence of competing destinations trying to emulate the Indian success
  • Perceived ‘commoditization’ - Increasing sensitivity to prices
  • Growth in domestic BPO industry – Still nascent, expected to increase with growing business demands
  • Primarily driven by Financial Services, Telecom and Retail sectors





Notes: (1) Leader locations are Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, NCR (Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad), Pune


underlying dynamics
Underlying dynamics
  • ICTs, which have enabled market expansion, removed geographical constrictions and reduced the need for infrastructure (Miozzo and Ramirez, 2003)
  • Time is compressed while space and distance are expanded (Massey 2007)
  • ‘Distance shrinking’ ICTs enabled remote delivery and generated economies of scale through the centralisation of previously-dispersed facilities
    • ‘Work can take place anywhere there is a phone line thus making it easy to establish operations nearly anywhere on the globe’ (Ritzer and Lair 2008: 40).
  • Yet paradoxically, place and space takes on increasing importance
  • New regulatory frameworks, competitive sectoral markets, and broader changes associated with liberalisation, privatisation and de-regulation
    • GATS
    • Deregulation of Indian telecoms industry
    • Pressure from NASSCOM for benefits to ITES-BPO sector
call routing
Call routing


Virtual centre

European and

Asian purchasers of

OptiPlex desktop and

Latitude notebook

US Purchasers of (DELL) OptiPlex desktop and Latitude notebook

US sites


(Frauenheim 2003)

tiered cities
Tiered cities

(Nasscom-Everest 2008)

however most of this growth is currently concentrated in 7 leading locations
However, most of this growth is currently concentrated in ~7 leading locations











  • The top 7 locations account for around 90% of the industry’s employment today
  • These locations have helped in transforming their states into a knowledge driven economy with high per capita income
  • However, the hyper and concentrated growth across most of these leading locations have resulted in:
    • Saturation and deteriorating infrastructure
    • Presence of large number of IT-BPO players resulting in high attrition and increased wages
    • Rapid growth of other sectors, resulting in greater competition for talent
    • Rising real estate costs
    • Deteriorating social and living environment

Success and economic growth of these locations has led to significant interest from other states / locations to leverage this sector as a growth driver for their economies


A framework for evaluating the attractiveness of a

country for offshoring






Choice of an











(Joshi and Mudigonda 2008)

‘Cities are at breaking point, and further growth will have to come from entirely new business districts outside of T1 and T2 cities’
  • (Nasscom-McKinsey 2005: 16)
‘The processes of social reproduction then crystallize into a relatively permanent patchwork quilt of local, interregional and even international specialisation. This patchwork quilt may then also be associated with marked differentials in the value and value-productivity of labour power’
  • (Harvey 2006: 383)
population of urban agglomerations with 10m inhabitants
Population of urban agglomerations with 10m+ inhabitants

(United Nations 2007)


1 New York-Newark 12.3m

2 Tokyo 11.3m


1 Tokyo 26.6m

2 New York-Newark 15.9m

3 Mexico City 10.7m


1 Tokyo, Japan 35.7m

2 New York-Newark 19m

3 Mexico City, Mexico 19m

4 Mumbai, India 19m

5 Sao Paulo, Brazil 18.8m

6 Delhi, India 15.9m

7 Shanghai, China 15m

8 Kolkata, India 14.8m

8 Dhaka, Bangladesh 13.5m

10 Buenos Aires, Argentina 12.8m

Findings indicate that the 50 locations in India are categorized along a typical four stage development path

Location Classification

Increasing Location Attractiveness

  • Bangalore
  • Chennai
  • Hyderabad
  • Kolkata
  • Mumbai
  • NCR
  • Pune

Notes: (1) National Capital Region (NCR) includes Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad

(2) Ahmedabad includes Gandhinagar

(3) Chandigarh includes Mohali and Panchkula

im mobility of employees
Im/mobility of employees
  • Follow capital wherever it flows
    • Rapid migration to cities in search of better jobs
  • Wage depends on education, experience, talent and where s/he lives and works
  • Attrition of 50% reported, with highest turnover in third-party firms and most volume-driven services (Taylor and Bain 2006)
  • ‘Mobility power’ and ability to quit signifies conflict
im mobility of capital
Im/mobility of capital
  • Progressively creates new capitals and expands labour markets
    • Search for new spatial fix
  • Need to manage a precarious balance between labour mobility and fixity
  • Moves to greater standardisation reduces reliance on specialist labour
    • In Indian BPO industry the aim is to have access to cheap labour without labour institutions that would pressurise terms and conditions
‘…the individual search for excess profits would keep the space economy of capitalist production in a state that resembles an incoherent and frenetic game of musical chairs’
  • (Harvey 2006: 393)

Wipro Chennai

Wipro Mumbai

Wipro Pune

Wipro Bucharest

Wipro Cebu

locational advantage
Locational advantage
  • Two contradictory tendencies (Harvey 1974):
  • the need for sufficient geographical mobility to seek out investment opportunities in new locations
  • the need for sufficient geographical fixity so that accumulation can occur
  • Relative locational advantage is ephemeral
  • The annihilation of space through time creates more fine-grained divisions and specialisations of labour
  • ‘Reducing the friction of distance, in short, makes capital more rather than less sensitive to local geographical variations’ (Harvey 2006: 100)
“The economic model behind India’s BPO sector is constantly changing. Historically, providers have been able to tap into relative wage differentials across geographies to build a strong value proposition for offshoring. While cost arbitrage continues to be a significant driver of global outsourcing for most buyers, the associated benefits will diminish over time…..wage inflation in India is putting pressure on operating margins of providers….Scenarios on potential momentum indicate that cost-arbitrage can diminish in the medium term.’
  • (Nasscom-Everest 2008: 9)

Non-linear is the mantra for future growth

Last 7 Years :

Way Forward :

Revenue Growth

Revenue Growth



Growth = Headcount

Growth = Value


Dell Presentation, NASSCOM 2008

improving the platform


  • Change recruiting mix to reduce entry – level salary
  • Reduce IT maintenance costs
  • Increase seat utilisation
  • Increase productive days
  • Increase shift timing (hours/shift)
Improving the platform . . .
  • Sample ideas under implementation
  • Standardize shift and break hours across teams as top processes within the centre
  • Gradually increase productive hours over next 2-3 years
  • Create multiple shifts for processes with TAT >1 day
  • Share same set of seats across voice and data processes
  • Rationalize demand for IT applications
  • Redefine services levels appropriate to processes
  • Benchmark AXA – Tech performance
  • Define skill – sets based on complexity of processes
  • Recruit contractors for simpler tasks
  • Investigate options for leave encashment and carry forward of leaves
  • Increase contractors

(AXA Presentation, NASSCOM 2008)

ites bpo labour process
ITES-BPO Labour process
  • Psychological tensions are experienced as workers in Indian call centres are rendered invisible by the adoption of Western identities while being expected to conceal the location of the centre (Mirchandani 2004)
  • ‘Taylorism through export’ (Taylor et al 2008) with shifts of between 8-10 hours duration, six days a week (Taylor and Bain 2005
  • One of the consequences of the 24-hour day is that Indian workers completely reverse their working lives to night time, leading a ‘double life’ which generates a number of tensions including health ailments and a separation from their family and the household (Ramesh 2004)
  • Fragmentation of service provision has resulted in deskilling as tasks are standardised, thus allowing for a reduction of training in order to cope with the high levels of attrition (Holman et al 2007).
  • Management use ‘national identity management’ whereby employees are asked to subsume different national identities as part of their job: ‘Acting American’ (Poster 2007)
Mobility and immobility of labour and capital add to our understanding of the dynamics of capitalism, but it’s unclear how this accounts for exploitation
  • Harvey’s work on uneven geographical development offers stronger explanation of the inherent contradictions within capital accumulation
  • Howcroft D and Richardson H (2009) (eds.) Work and Life in the Global Economy, Palgrave
  • Howcroft et al (2010) The Back office goes global: Exploring Connections and Contradictions in Shared Service Centres, Work Employment and Society.
  • Howcroft D and Richardson H (2008) Gender matters in the global outsourcing of service work, New Technology, Work and Employment, 23:1-2, 44-60.