Sub-theme 16: From Global Sourcing of Business Services and Innovation to Reconfiguring the Global Organization

Arie Y. Lewin
Duke University, USA
Silvia Massini
Manchester Business School, UK
Carine Peeters
Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Belgium

Call for Papers

The dramatic increase in the pace of globalization has given goods, services, and intellectual capital unprecedented mobility accelerating the growth of global sourcing practices. In recent years, more and more Western firms have come to recognize that their future top line growth in their home countries and adjacent regions will be largely determined by a growth rate more typical of replacement economies. More aggressive growth rates will very much depend on capturing markets in fast growing emerging economies in Asia (such as China and India), Africa and Latin America. Leading edge companies are actively exploring the realignment of their global organization foot print in response to the shift in the origin of their top line growth. For example P&G has moved the global management of its skin care business to Singapore. GE is in the process of relocating its medical diagnostic business to China. Independent of this dynamic, many companies have been engaged in globally reorganizing their business functions and processes, 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 parallel, emerging economies have developed their own competencies in offering business services to attract foreign firms and stimulate economic growth.

These co-evolving dynamics are ushering significant changes in firms, industries and careers, which are yet little understood. First, the entry of new "guerilla' competitors from newly industrialized economies are intensifying global competition, prompting firms to reorganize internal processes, develop new organizational capabilities and structures, and engage in redrawing organizational boundaries. Many firms are 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 growing top line growth in fast growing economies of Asia, Latin America and Africa. While isomorphic pressures are driving some convergence in business practices, the variation in firm practices are growing especially with regard to firm internal capabilities to relocate and coordinate processes, collaborate with external partners and recruit talent across borders, but also in dealing with the internal and external political pressures. We invite papers that explore how the changing landscape of global competition is co-evolving with new organizational forms, practices, capabilities, and structures.

Second, global sourcing practices have been co-evolving with the emergence of local and global business services providers industries. A few years back, no observer of global sourcing trends predicted that China and other emerging economies would adopt national strategies to grow their capacity to attract outsourcing and innovation projects; or that Indian providers such as Wipro, TCS, Infosys and Genpact would evolve into multinational enterprises in North Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America and compete directly with Western providers on their turf to serve the U.S. and European clients. In parallel, new intermediaries and Internet-based platforms have emerged offering a variety of services connecting talent and clients from around the world. Such trends demand a deeper understanding of how global sourcing is affecting the global organization of value-adding business processes within and across industries, and how national economies and service providers are positioning and organizing themselves to compete in the global sourcing space, including the promotion of industry standards and institutional frameworks.

Third, the challenge of realigning global organization foot print combined with the growing application of global sourcing practices and capabilities is affecting firm employment practices and career paths of professionals both in advanced and emerging economies. Western national policy-makers have expressed strong concerns about real or potential domestic job losses due to companies disassembling and reassembling their business processes and realigning where and how work is done, often in reaction to perceived or real shortage of talent and skilled labor in many science and engineering fields. At the same time, as companies realign their global organization foot print as well as become increasingly sophisticated in utilizing global sourcing they also experience mounting criticism for exploiting labor and institutional arbitrage effects, including opportunities to undermine international labor rights.

We invite studies that explore and advance a multidisciplinary understanding of this phenomenon including sociology, economics, political science, developmental economies, strategy, international business, industry evolution, management and others.


Arie Y. Lewin is Professor of Strategy and International Business at Duke University, Fuqua School of Business and Director of the Center for International Business Education Research (CIBER). He is the lead PI for the multiyear international Offshoring Research Network (ORN) project which looks at companies in transition to globalizing their organizations. Current research focuses on the globalization of innovation.
Silvia Massini is Senior Lecturer in Economics and Technology Management at Manchester Business School and a member of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. Her main research interests focus on technological and organizational innovation processes and offshoring and global sourcing in business services.
Carine Peeters is Professor of International Business and Strategy at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (ULB). She is the lead partner of the Offshoring Research Network for Belgium. Her research is on the globalization of services centers and the learning process and development of organizational capabilities related to global sourcing.