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The Practice of Outsourcing: From Information Systems to BPO and Offshoring

Mary Lacity and Leslie Willcocks| (eds)
Palgrave Macmillan (June 2009)

This book details nearly 20 years of research into the outsourcing phenomenon, and is companion to the earlier Palgrave volume Information Systems and Outsourcing: Studies in Theory and Practice. Using an unparalleled database of over 650 longitudinal case studies the authors document and analyses outsourcing's rise prominence in the 1990s, pinpointing trends, practices and lessons. It finds that many of the so-called 'strategic alliances' of this period tended to be straightforward 'fee-for-service contracts in practice. The book develops critieria for making sourcing decisions, and provides details of the practices that work, and those that do not.

The authors then detail developments in the IT, business process and offshore outsourcing service markets from 2000 on. They show that, against a background of growth in global revenues, outsourcing provided real promise on costs and service, new models, but also new challenges to client organizations and suppliers alike. Based on their research work, the authors point to thirteen future global sourcing trends from 2009-14. The book documents how organizations have been learning, experientially, and often painfully, how to manage back office outsourcing. But the increased size, importance, complexity of the phenomena, and the risks they engender, suggest that in the next phase, already started in some organizations discussed in the book, research will be into how organizations seek to provide leadership in outsourcing. For the authors, this shift will be a necessary one if governance, control, flexibility and superior business performance are to be outsourcing's consequences.

  • Mary Lacity is a Professor of Information Systems and International Business Fellow at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Leslie Willcocks is Professor of Technology Work and Globalization and Director of the Outsourcing Unit at LSE

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The Practice of Outsourcing