A Pathfinder


Introduction and Scope

Outsourcing or contracting out, in the current managerial sense of the term, might be dated back to policies of the global consulting company Electronic Data Systems (EDS), starting in the 1960s. More recently, with the rapid multinational growth and expansion of high tech companies in the 1990s, especially in Asia, the term "outsourcing" has attracted controversy. A further complication is the frequent conflation of the term outsourcing with one especially controversial variant, (International) offshoring, that has resulted in loss of U.S. jobs, at least in the short term.

Outsourcing has frequently been paired in both theoretical and political debates with the term "globalization." Outsourcing controversies often serve as case instances for both the benefits and the pitfalls of rapid international globalization; thus, anyone concerned with the social, political, or cultural consequences of outsourcing will also benefit from some understanding of current views of globalization.

This pathfinder especially emphasizes the social and cultural consequences of outsourcing, as related to a broad spectrum of views on globalization. It is intended for a variety of audiences including college students, librarians and teachers, and the curious business or professional student who is seeking perspectives on outsourcing drawn from outside of a strictly "business" or managerial context.

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Subject Headings

Use the following Library of Congress subject headings for your search.

Contracting out
Offshore assembly industry

To emphasize the social and cultural consequences of Outsourcing, do a Boolean search (using the word AND) pairing one of the above terms with one or more of the following subject headings:

Education and globalization
Culture and globalization
Anti-globalization movement

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Frequently Cited Book

Many readers may first encounter serious discussion of outsourcing through the writings of the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The following references provide some international context, and critique, of Friedman's recent book.

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Friedman, Thomas L.. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

Friedman continues an argument presented in his earlier book on globalization, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Friedman views the world as "flat" in the sense of "connected" in the technological and economic senses of the term. The book focuses especially on outsourcing in Bangalore, India. Online Link.
Palast, Greg, 'French Fried Friedman: The Nouvelle Globalizer,' Guerilla News, June 5, 2005

A British columnist for The Observer criticizes Friedman for being part of a neoliberal American approach to globalization. Online Link
Gray, John, 'The World is Round,' The New York Review of Books 52(13), August 11, 2005.

This book review likens Friedman's technological determinism to early Marxist thought.

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Florida, Richard, 'The World is Spiky,' The Atlantic Monthly, 296(3): 48-51, October 2005.

Illustrated with a graphic map, the article claims that while globalization has changed the economic playing field, it has not leveled it.

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Handbooks and Guidebooks

The following are representative managerial guides to outsourcing, most especially in India.

Being Processed Davis
Davies, Paul, What's This India Business? Offshoring, Outsourcing and the Global Services Revolution, London: Nicholas Brealey, 2004.

A combination handbook to outsourcing and guide to Indian culture, interspersed with personal anecdotes, by a former managing director of Unisys in India.

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Kobayashi-Hillary, Mark, Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage, 2nd edition, Berlin: Springer, 2005.

Written for experienced managers and combining academic theory with practical advice for global management in India, the author combines anecdotes from personal experience with scholarly research citations. Six chapters provide an introduction to India; five chapters describe the outsourcing industry in India; and fourteen chapters provide guidance on how to organize the outsourcing process.

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Linder, Jane C., Outsourcing for Radical Change: A Bold Approach to Enterprise Transformation, New York: AMACOM, 2004.

A guide to what the author terms "transformational outsourcing" based on evidence derived from nine research studies completed over two years. Online Link, OutsourcingCenter.

Peter Bendor-Samuel answers frequently asked questions on definitions of outsourcing and contracting out. More generally, this website collects and makes available news articles from a business perspective. OutsourcingCenter is the publishing and marketing channel of Everest Group, a prominent consulting firm.

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Offshore Economies

This section includes scholarly works focusing upon economic and financial issues. Online Link
Bardhan, Ashok Deo and Kroll, Cynthia A., 'The New Wave of Outsourcing,' Research Report (12 pages), Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2003.

Following upon the early wave of manufacturing jobs, the report identifies the new wave of outsourcing as white collar jobs. Online Link
Drezner, Daniel W., 'The Outsourcing Bogeyman,' Foreign Affairs, 83: 22-34, May-June, 2004.

This article argues that outsourcing brings more benefits than costs.

Feenstra, Robert C., 'Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy,'
Journal of Economic Perspectives
, 12(4): 31-50, 1998.

A classic article linking the rising integration of world markets with a disintegration of the production process. The article explores the implications of this economic trend for globalization, including the impact on employment and wages of low-skilled workers and implications on trade and regulatory policy, including labor standards. Online Link
Mann, Catherine L., 'Globalization of IT Services and White Collar Jobs: The Next Wave of Productivity Growth,' International Economics Policy Briefs, Number PB03-11 (12 pages), December 2003.

The article argues that since globalization of software of services, enhanced IT use, transformation of activities in new sectors, and job creation are mutually dependent, any attempt to break those links will put robust and sustainable US economic performance at risk.

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Palan, Rolen, The Offshore World: Sovereign Markets, Virtual Places, and Nomad Millionaires. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.

A scholarly study of the offshore economy, with specific focus on economic and legal issues. This book attempts to define the conceptual meaning of "offshore" in the context of economic thought.,7211,35212,00.html Online Link
Parker, Andrew with Metcalfe, David and Takahashi, Sonoko, 'Two Speed Europe: Why 1 Million Jobs Will Move Offshore,' Forrester website, August 18, 2004 (14 pages).

This report excerpt forecasts that Europe will lose 1.2 million jobs to offshore locations by 2015, mostly in the UK. Despite the job loss resulting from offshoring, the report forecasts that those European countries such as France and Germany that make the least use of offshoring services will lose the most, as aggressive offshore user countries will receive an economic boost from offshore efficiencies. The report includes downloadable figures in PowerPoint or Excel format.

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Ethnographic/Historical Studies

This section includes several especially evocative ethnographic and historical local case studies of outsourcing and offshoring.

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Freeman, Carla. High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy: Women, Work, and Pink-Collar Identities in the Caribbean, Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

A detailed ethnographic study of new forms of feminine identity that result from the offshoring of the informatics industry in the Barbados. The author develops the construct of a new consciousness of "pink-collar" identity whereby local Barbados women gain increased status in the informatics industry through the nonmaterial and symbolic aspects of Western style clothes, fashion, and international shopping trips.

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Heitzman, James. Network City: Planning the Information Society in Bangalore, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

A history of the past half century of the development of Bangalore into the Silicon Valley of India, with close attention to the social impact of technical change on local residents.

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Mitter, Swasti; Fernandez, Grace and Varghese, Shaiby, 'On the Threshold of Informalization: Women Call Centre Workers in India, p. 164-183 in Chains of Fortune: Linking Women Producers and Workers with Global Markets, edited by Marilyn Carr, London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2004.

A policy centered account of Indian call centers, from the female perspective, that emphasizes characteristics of "informal employment" resulting in lack of long term job security.

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Novels/Short Stories

This section includes best selling literary depictions of the social effects of the high tech industry in India. Official Website of Chetan Bhagat
Bhagat, Chetan, Five Point Someone: What Not To Do at IIT , New Delhi: Rupe & Co., 2004.
Bhagat, Chetan, One Night @the Call Center, Sify, Rediff, Landmark, and Indiatimes in India; international sales via author's website, 2005.

The first novel, Five Point Someone, is an insider's view of the most exclusive Indian Institute of Technology college in India, written by a 1995 IIT Delhi graduate. The title refers to a student with a GPA of five points out of a total of ten. This book has been a long term bestseller in India; ranked in the top ten fiction works by India Today. Bhagat's second novel, One Night @the Call Center, has also become a bestseller based on advance press. Both books are available for purchase from the author's website.

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Sankaran, Lavanya, The Red Carpet: Bangalore Stories, New York: Dial Press, 2005.

Beautifully written stories about the subtle effects of high tech and globalization on native residents of Bangalore.

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Opinionated Commentaries

This section includes editorialization and commentary on outsourcing. Online Link
Anderson, Sarah and Cavanagh, John, 'Toward a Progressive View on Outsourcing,' The Nation, March 22, 2004.

Three viewpoints on outsourcing were solicited in the attempt to develop a progressive position on outsourcing.,10801,105828,00.html?source=x29 Online Link
Babu, Mohan, 'Myth: All Outsourcing is Offshoring,' Computerworld, November 14, 2005.

Essential advice to keep in mind when doing Google searches on this topic. Online Link
Baily, Martin and Farrell, Diana, 'Exploding the Myths About Offsourcing,' McKinsey Global Institute,
April 2004.

The authors cite McKinsey Global Institute research demonstrating potential benefits to the U.S. through offshoring, including corporate savings, additional exports, repatriated profits, greater productivity, and new jobs.

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Buchholz, Todd G., Bringing the Jobs Home: How the Left Created the Outsourcing Crisis--and How We Can Fix It, New York: Sentinel, 2004.

The White House Director of Economic Policy under President George H. W. Bush traces the outsourcing crisis to American immigration, education, legal, and tax systems.

ACM Digital Library Portal UNC Online Link
Chakraborty, Kalyan and Remington, William, '"Offshoring" of IT Services: The Impact on the US Economy,' Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 20(4): 112-125, April 2005.

This article reminds the reader that offshore outsourcing has been occurring for the past two decades, but what is new with high tech jobs is that white color jobs are now being affected by offshoring, in terms of job loss. Online Link
Hill Briefing, 'Are We Exporting Our Jobs to India and China?,' an online video in RealVideo format from
The Cato Institute
, Friday, October 17, 2003 (1 hour, 7 minutes).

Dan Griswold, Associate Director, Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute debates Harris Miller, President, Information Technology Association of America on the facts behind trade, investment, and employment trends that are reshaping the U.S. economy.

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Hira, Ron and Hira, Anil, Outsourcing America: What's Behind Our National Crisis and How We Can Reclaim American Jobs, New York: AMACOM, 2005.

A somewhat polemical, though scholarly, book by two economists extrapolating on arguments originally presented on the Lou Dobbs show on CNN.

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In Depth News Reports Online link
Anderson, Sarah and Cavanagh, John, 'Outsourcing: A Policy Agenda,' Foreign Policy in Focus 9(2) (Silver City, NM & Washington, DC), April 2004.

The authors note that U.S. companies dominate global services outsourcing, and India is the top developing-country destination. The article surveys problems with current U.S. policy, and provides recommendations for a new foreign policy. Online link
Baily, Martin N. and Farrell, Diana, 'Is Your Job Headed for Bangalore? The Myths and Realities of Outsourcing,' Milkin Institute Review: 33-41, Fourth Quarter 2004.

The authors argue that the issue with outsourcing is not globalization, but rather the way nations allocate the benefits of economic integration. Thus the policy maker's job is to facilitate change, rather than attempt to stop it. Online link
Edwards, Ben, Outsourcing, Research Tools, Surveys, 13 November 2004, at

Detailed discussion of a variety of economic and political issues concerning multinational outsourcing from The Economist print edition. The quite detailed survey extends through 11 pages, including an audio interview with the author of the survey, Ben Edwards, US Business Editor of The Economist. Online link
Mayer, Jane, 'Outsourcing Torture,' The New Yorker, issue of 2005-02-14 .

A report on a novel and peculiarly modern type of international outsourcing. The secret history of America's "extraordinary rendition" program.

E-Journals UNC Online Link
Meredith, Robyn, 'The Next Wave of Offshoring,' Far Eastern Economic Review 168(3): 19-24,
March 2005.

This article argues that over the next decade "offshoring will knock millions of white-collar Americans and Europeans out of work, blowing a hole in the middle class from Los Angeles to London." Online link
Pink, Daniel H., 'The New Face of the Silicon Age,' Wired Magazine, 12(2), February 2004 (8 pages).

How India became the capital of the computing revolution. Free download
Sen, Sumantra and Frankel, Francine, India's Strategy of IT-Led Growth: Challenges of Asymmetric Dependence, India in Transition: Economics and Politics of Change, Philadelphia: Center for the Advanced Study of India, 2005.

The report provides an overview of the Indian IT industry today, outlines the subsectors experiencing the fastest growth, and reassesses the recent history of Indian government policies. A striking finding of the report is that the recent rapid growth of the IT industry in India over the past decade was greatly influenced by the earlier period of Indian government intervention that favored domestic industries over foreign companies.

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Discovery Channel Store Online Purchase Link
Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: The Other Side of Outsourcing DVD
, Discovery Channel, June 2004,
50 minutes.

A documentary on outsourcing in India, by the New York Times columnist. This DVD very nicely complements Friedman's book, The World is Flat.

Videocassette 65-V3744 Media Resources Center, 57 minutes version.
Videocassette 65-V7043 Media Resources Center, 32 minutes version.
Gray, Lorraine, The Global Assembly Line, [New York]: New Day Films, 1986.

An excellent documentary on worker conditions in "free trade zones" of developing countries as well as in the U.S.A. Includes substantial footage from Mexico and from the Philippines. Online Link
Nisonoff, Laurie, 'Men, Women and the Global Assembly Line,' Curricular Crossings: Women's Studies and Area Studies, A Web Anthology for the College Classroom from the Five College Women's Studies Research Center.

This online reading is an excellent complement to the Lorraine Gray film. Both the film and the Nisonoff reading discuss the maquiladora (Mexican import factory) system, and its global effect on female labor.

Wal Mart film website Online Link
Greenwald, Robert, Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Price DVD, Brave New Films, 2005,
98 minutes.

A documentary about the harmful influence of Wal Mart on workers and on communities. The film includes a substantial section depicting working conditions of outsourced Wal Mart workers in China. The DVD is available for purchase from the website.

DVD 65-DVD2636 UNC Media Resources Center, 1 hour.
Also freely available online at:
Smith, Hedrick and Young, Rick, Is Wal-Mart Good for America?, a Frontline co-production with Hedrick Smith Productions, WGBH; PBS Video, 2005. Originally broadcast November 16, 2004 on Frontline.

The online version includes a tape transcript and excellent background links, with special focus on Wal-Mart's "China connection" to outsourced goods and labor.

Secrets of Silicon Valley website Online Link
Snitow, Alan and Kaufman, Deborah, Secrets of Silicon Valley, Bullfrog Films, 2001, 1 hour.

A documentary depicting the underside of temporary and peripheral workers in Silicon Valley. The film shuttles between a Mexican-American who operates a computer training center and an Indian-American temporary employee who decides to organize an on-line magazine written by high-tech temporary workers. This is one of the best documentary depictions of the digital divide in the U.S.A. The official web site includes excellent online resources contextualizing the documentary for a classroom or activist context. Available for purchase from Bullfrog Films.

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Internet Resources

This section includes collections of links and bibliographical resources.

ACM Digital Library UNC Portal UNC Online Link
Dibbern, Jens; Goles, Tim; Hirschheim, Rudy; and Jayatilaka, Bandula, 'Information Systems Outsourcing: A Survey and Analysis of the Literature,' SIGMIS Database 35(4): 6-102, November 2004.

A synthesis and roadmap of the IS outsourcing literature. Online Link.
'Outsourcing: Is India to be Blamed?,' Asia Today Special Report, Asia Source, March 17 2004.

This special report includes many links to international news reports, with an Asia focus, on the themes of outsourcing and globalization. The links are divided by Commentary and Analysis, News, Background on the Indian Economy, and General Reference. Online Link
BCG Publications, The Boston Consulting Group.

The Boston Consulting Group is an international strategy and general management consulting firm whose mission is to help leading corporations create and sustain competitive advantage. One can search the database of publications by Industry, Topic, Publication Type, and Language. One suggestion for searching: Set topic to Globalization, and use the keyword Outsourcing. Online Link
'Offshoring White-Collar Work--The Issues and the Implications,' Brookings Trade Forum 2005, The Brookings Institution.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to independent research and innovative policy solutions. This Brooking Trade Forum on outsourcing presents analyses by both academic and business leaders on offshoring of financial services, call centers, radiology, and software, and on India's potential rise as a world class services provider. Search Brookings Publications for Policy Briefs, Analysis and Policy, and Books on globalization, outsourcing, and offshoring. Online Link.
"Offshoring" Research Topic links to McKinsey Global Institute research publications.

McKinsey Global Institute is an independent economics think tank, dedicated to combining the disciplines of economics and management to help guide business and policy leaders in reshaping the global economy. This link collects references to many recent studies of offshoring in various local contexts through the world. Other topics featured on the McKinsey Global Institute Research Topics page such as Global Economic Integration may also be of interest. One can search the McKinsey Global Institute online publications by both Research Topic and Region. Online Link.
Outsourcing Research Center, Networkworld.

Not actually a "research" center, but rather an outsourcing news service, from a business perspective. The site includes various types of links, including weblogs and wikis.

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UNC Databases

The following UNC subscription databases are especially useful for locating sources on the topic of outsourcing.

ACM Digital Library UNC Library Link.

Many scholarly articles on outsourcing and offshoring are available here, mostly from a technological and information science perspective.

Global Newsbank UNC Library Link.

This database provides full text news articles in English from multiple sources internationally, from 1996 to the present. This is an excellent research tool for empirical research studies on globalization and outsourcing.

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Created for INLS 111 by Gary Hausman
School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Last Updated 10 December, 2005

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