International Monetary Fund

Call centers: co-opting the Filipino identity

Call centers: co-opting the Filipino identity

What changes when a country devotes itself to servicing the businesses of other countries?

Call centers are big business in the Philippines. As a doctoral student, I researched the industry there between 2008 and 2013, when the Southeast Asian nation became a top destination for outsourced jobs from industrialized countries, the U.S. chief among them. In 2011, the Philippines surpassed India to become the world’s capital of call centers.

In an interview, Melvin Legarda and Joseph Santiago, executives at the organization then known as the Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, argued that Filipinos possess an innate capacity for empathy, compassion and...