30+ years of research and practice of outsourcing – Exploring the past and anticipating the future
Published on Jun 1, 2009in Journal of International Management 2.83
· DOI :10.1016/j.intman.2008.07.002
Outsourcing is a phenomenon that as a practice originated in the 1950s, but it was not until the 1980s when the strategy became widely adopted in organizations. Since then, the strategy has evolved from a strictly cost focused approach towards more cooperative nature, in which cost is only one, often secondary, decision-making criterion. In the development of the strategy, three broad and somewhat overlapping, yet distinct phases can be identified: the era of the Big Bang, the era of the Bandwagon, and the era of Barrierless Organizations. This paper illustrates that the evolution of the practice has caused several contradictions among researchers, as well as led to the situation where the theoretical background of the phenomenon has recently become much richer. Through examining existing research, this paper intends to identify the development of outsourcing strategy from a practical as well as a theoretical perspective from its birth up to today. In addition, through providing insights from managers in the information technology industry, this paper aims at providing a glimpse from the future - that is - what may be the future directions and research issues in this complex phenomenon?