Service outsourcing and its effects on knowledge
AbstractPurpose The purpose of the paper is to identify changes in different types of knowledge in a service outsourcing relationship as knowledge is transferred from the client to the provider, which correspond to the research question that guides the paper: ‘What are the effects on knowledge types when parts of service production are outsourced to a third party and knowledge is transferred?’. To answer this question we explored changes in both tacit and explicit knowledge taking place in several service outsourcing relationships. Design/methodology/approach A case study approach is chosen, as data is obtained from multiple levels. We studied four service outsourcing relationships, with outsourcing providers and outsourcing clients based in Europe and South-east Asia. Findings It is possible to identify two major changes as service outsourcing is conducted. (1) There is a change of relative importance of knowledge types; there is an increased emphasis on explicit knowledge as opposed to tacit knowledge. This is (2) caused partly due to the transfer situation and partly due to a focus on efficient mass production and a standardisation and industrialisation of the service. The focus on explicit knowledge leads to a loss of tacit knowledge. Research limitations/implications Our research is limited in two ways. First, we examined two countries. Thus, there are opportunities for expansion into more settings. Second, our findings can be tested by survey-type research thereby increasing the sample. Practical implications In a service outsourcing relationship the emphasis is most often on explicit knowledge. This is beneficial in a transaction cost relationship with standardized tasks being transferred. However, the more complex tasks being transferred the more difficult it is to clearly specify what is going to be transferred as the knowledge becomes more tacit, calling for more long-term relationships with other mechanisms for knowledge transfer of tacit knowledge in place. As a manager one need to be able to distinguish which type of relationship is wanted. Originality/value This paper helps to clarify what happens in a transfer situation when outsourcing is conducted. Particularly we emphasize the importance of tacit knowledge – a dimension often neglected in research – opposed to solely emphasizing explicit knowledge.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Business Administration with number 2013:1.
Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 21 Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE 113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-(0)8-736 90 00
Fax: +46-(0)8-31 01 57
Web page: http://www.hhs.se/
More information through EDIRC
Service outsourcing; BPO; knowledge; knowledge transfer; service management;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-03-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-KNM-2013-03-16 (Knowledge Management & Knowledge Economy)
- NEP-SEA-2013-03-16 (South East Asia)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Helena Lundin).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.