Sub-theme 13: Global Sourcing and the Reorganization of Firms, Industries and Employment

Arie Y. Lewin
Duke University, USA
Stephan D. Manning
University of Massachusetts Boston, USA
Silvia Massini
Manchester Business School, UK

Call for Papers

Western multinational enterprises increasingly source and reorganize their business functions and processes globally, including administrative work, IT services, software and innovation projects, to take advantage of lower costs and access to underutilized skills and talent around the world, in particular in developing countries. In doing so, firms are shifting organizational boundaries and continuously experimenting with new forms of coordination and control, the use of advanced information and communication technology, and new human resource management practices in response to or in anticipation of opportunities and challenges of global services sourcing. These trends have co-evolved with the emergence of local services industries and the rise of new global service providers, such as Wipro, TCS, Infosys and Genpact.

As a result of increasing global sourcing activities, firms (both clients and providers) have started to reorganize internal processes and business functions, and develop new organizational capabilities, structures, and forms of collaboration. In parallel, national economies are positioning and organizing themselves to compete in the global sourcing space, including the promotion of industry standards and institutional frameworks. Finally, global sourcing has affected employment practices and professional career paths both in advanced and emerging economies. In recent years, more firms have sought to utilize high-skilled talent pools abroad in reaction to the perceived or real shortage of talent and skilled labor in some science and engineering fields at home. In contrast, labor arbitrage strategies have shown to have rapid diminishing returns due to rising wage inflation and employee turnover, as well as hotspot effects which lead to adjustments in employment practices at home and offshore.

We invite studies that explore the reorganization of firms, industries and employment relations through global sourcing of services and talent, the increasing commoditization and standardization of services, industry transformation and segmentation processes, and the changing global division of labor. Paper proposals may address, but are not limited to, the following potential research questions:

  • Global sourcing and firms: What are the different ways that firms reorganize processes in the context of global sourcing? How has global sourcing affected and been affected by (new) organizational structures, capabilities and boundaries? To what extent can existing theories of the firm explain this trend, and what are potentially interesting new theoretical approaches?
  • Global sourcing and industries: How has the global sourcing trend co-evolved with the reorganization and regulation of global service industries? What role do new intermediaries and globalizing providers play in this process? What are the prospects and limitations of conventional and alternative economic and institutional theories in explaining this?
  • Global sourcing and employment: How have employment practices and career paths of professionals in both advanced and emerging economies changed and co-evolved with global sourcing? How do firms respond to wage inflation, high attrition and calls for more socially responsible employment practices – both at home and at offshore locations?


Dossani, R. & Kenney, M. (2007): "The next wave of globalization: relocating service provision to India." World Development, 35, 772-791.
Kenney, M., S. Massini & T.P. Murtha, T.P. (2009): "Offshoring administrative and technical work: New fields for understanding the global enterprise." Journal of International Business Studies, 40, 887-900.
Kumar, K., P.C. van Fenema & M.A. von Glinow (2009): "Offshoring and the global distribution of work: Implications for task interdependence theory and practice.” Journal of International Business Studies, 40, 642-667.
Manning, S., S. Massini & A.Y. Lewin (2008): "A dynamic perspective on next-generation offshoring: the global sourcing of science & engineering talent." Academy of Management Perspectives, 22, 35-54.
Saxenian, A.-L. (2005): "From brain drain to brain circulation: Transnational communities and regional upgrading in India and China." Studies in Comparative International Development, 40, 35-61.


Arie Y. Lewin 
Stephan D. Manning 
Silvia Massini