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The Political Economy of Outsourcing in the European Union and the East-European Enlargement

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  • Stefanova Boyka M

    (The University of Texas at San Antonio)

Abstract

This paper explores the East-West dichotomy of outsourcing in the European Union in the context of its 2004 eastward enlargement. The purpose of the study is to shed light on the connection between outsourcing and the causal logic of regional integration. The conventional view is that the transfer of business operations from Western Europe to low-cost locations to the east represents a process of outsourcing West-European jobs which deprives the EU core of growth opportunities to the exclusive benefit of the new members from Eastern Europe. This analysis posits the systemic functions of EU outsourcing as a mechanism of economic homogenization in the regional market along its three principal dimensions: investment, commodity trade, and labor mobility. At the macro-level, outsourcing complements capital movements and trade, and acts as a substitute for labor mobility. Keeping labor mobility down is the main value added of EU outsourcing. Empirically, its relevance to the regional market is established in an input-output framework of relationships with indicators of economic convergence (homogenization effects) and labor mobility (substitution effects) in the EU. Positive correlations with indices of business synchronization and weak negative correlations with measures of labor supply and wages suggest that outsourcing fits well both with strategies fostering market integration and those counterbalancing the politically sensitive labor mobility in the EU. There is no significant evidence to suggest that, at the aggregate level, outsourcing has independent substitution effects with regard to unemployment rates and wages in Western Europe. The geographic expansion of EU integration, therefore, is not a proxy for losses of social welfare in the West. The paper concludes that as the cost efficiency and resource allocation functions of outsourcing facilitate the homogenizing dynamics of regional integration, it is likely to become increasingly subsumed under EU-level regulation and monitoring in a trade-off between the regional interest and domestic sectoral concerns.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefanova Boyka M, 2006. "The Political Economy of Outsourcing in the European Union and the East-European Enlargement," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 1-45, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:8:y:2006:i:2:n:3
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Erkki Koskela, 2010. "Analysis of Labor Tax Progression under Heterogeneous Domestic Labor Markets and Flexible Outsourcing," CESifo Working Paper Series 3239, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Erkki Koskela & Rune Stenbacka, 2007. "Equilibrium Unemployment with Outsourcing and Wage Solidarity under Labour Market Imperfections," CESifo Working Paper Series 1988, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Erkki Koskela & Jan König, 2007. "Strategic Outsourcing, Profit Sharing and Equilibrium Unemployment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2168, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Erkki Koskela & Jan König, 2010. "Profit Sharing, Wage Formation and Flexible Outsourcing under Labor Market Imperfection," CESifo Working Paper Series 2925, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Koskela, Erkki, 2010. "Analysis of Labor Tax Progression under Heterogeneous Domestic Labor Markets and Flexible Outsourcing," IZA Discussion Papers 5313, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Erkki Koskela & Panu Poutvaara, 2008. "Flexible Outsourcing and the Impacts of Labour Taxation in European Welfare States," CESifo Working Paper Series 2440, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Koskela, Erkki, 2009. "Impacts of Labor Taxation with Perfectly and Imperfectly Competitive Domestic Labor Markets under Flexible Outsourcing," IZA Discussion Papers 4544, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Erkki Koskela, 2009. "Impacts of Labor Taxation with Perfectly and Imperfectly Competitive Domestic Labor Markets under Flexible Outsourcing," CESifo Working Paper Series 2852, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Erkki Koskela & Ronnie Schöb, 2010. "Outsourcing of Unionized Firms and the Impact of Labor Market Policy Reforms," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 682-695, September.
    10. Erkki Koskela & Panu Poutvaara, 2008. "Outsourcing and Labor Taxation in Dual Labor Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 2333, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Aronsson, Thomas & Koskela, Erkki, 2008. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation and Provision of Public Input Goods in an Economy with Outsourcing and Unemployment," Umeå Economic Studies 759, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    12. Erkki Koskela & Jan König, 2008. "Flexible Outsourcing, Profit Sharing and Equilibrium Unemployment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2382, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Koskela, Erkki & Stenbacka, Rune, 2010. "Equilibrium unemployment with outsourcing and wage solidarity under labour market imperfections," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 376-392, April.
    14. Koskela, Erkki & Stenbacka, Rune, 2007. "Equilibrium Unemployment with Outsourcing and Wage Solidarity Under Labour Market Imperfections," IZA Discussion Papers 2733, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Thomas Aronsson & Erkki Koskela, 2008. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation and Provision of Public Input Goods in an Economy with Outsourcing and Unemployment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2481, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Aronsson, Thomas & Koskela, Erkki, 2009. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation and Provision of Public Input Goods in an Economy with Outsourcing and Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 4196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Koskela, Erkki & König, Jan, 2010. "Profit Sharing, Wage Formation and Flexible Outsourcing under Labor Market Imperfection," IZA Discussion Papers 4707, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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