Automation In Shared Service Centres: Implications For Skills And Autonomy In A Global Organisation

18 December 2023

The offshoring-fuelled growth of the Central and Eastern European business services sector gave rise to shared service centres (SSCs), quasi-autonomous entities providing routine-intensive tasks for the central organisation. The advent of technologies like Intelligent Process Automation, Robotic Process Automation, and Artificial Intelligence jeopardises SSCs’ employment model, necessitating workers’ skills adaptation. The study challenges the deskilling hypothesis and reveals that automation in the Polish SSCs is conducive to upskilling and worker autonomy. Drawing on 31 in-depth interviews, we highlight the negotiated nature of automation processes shaped by interactions between headquarters, SSCs, and their workers. Workers actively participated in automation processes, eliminating the most mundane tasks. This resulted in upskilling, higher job satisfaction and empowerment. Yet, this phenomenon heavily depends upon the fact that automation is triggered by labour shortages, which limit the expansion of SSCs. This situation encourages companies to leverage the specific expertise entrenched in their existing workforce. The study underscores the importance of fostering employee-driven automation and upskilling initiatives for overall job satisfaction and quality.

keywords: automation, Shared Service Centres, skills, job quality
JEL codes: 
publication year: 2023
language: english
Publications category: 
publishing series: IBS Working Paper
publication number: 08/2023
ISSN: 2451-4373
Additional information:

We thank the participants at the UNTANGLED conference in Leuven in November 2023 for their helpful comments. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (project “UNTANGLED”) under grant agreement No. 1001004776

Projects related to this publication:

Institute for Structural Research

Institute for Structural Research (IBS)

Cracow University of Economics

Jagiellonian University

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