Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


Publications




Went for Cost, Stayed for Quality?: Moving the Back Office to India

Working Paper

Authors
Rafiq Dossani
Martin Kenney

Issued by
Shorenstein APARC, page(s): 40
November 2003


Will the next great wave of globalization come in services? Increasingly, components of back-office services, such as payroll and order fulfillment, and some front-office services, such as customer care, are being relocated from the United States and other developed countries to English-speaking, developing nations - especially India, but also other nations, such as the Philippines. Though moving service activities offshore is not entirely new, the pace has quickened of late. The acceleration of this business process offshoring (BPO) is intertwined, though not synonymous, with another phenomenon, namely an increasing willingness by firms to outsource what formerly were considered core activities. It is significant that a substantial number of service activities might move offshore, because it was once thought that service jobs were the future growth area for developed country economies. Manufacturing, by contrast, would relocate to lower labor cost regions offshore. Notably, the services commonly known as "business processes" (BPs) are among the fastest growing job categories in the United States. Should these jobs begin to move offshore, a new tendency may be under way in the global economy that will be as or more important than the relocation of manufacturing offshore, and might necessitate a rethinking of government policies across a wide spectrum.