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Learning Paths to Offshore Outsourcing - From Cost Reduction to Knowledge Seeking


  • Peter Maskell
  • Torben Pedersen
  • Bent Petersen
  • Jens Dick-Nielsen


A corporation’s offshore outsourcing may be seen as the result of a discrete, strategic decision taken in response to an increasing pressure from worldwide competition. However, empirical evidence of a representative cross-sector sample of international Danish firms indicates that offshore sourcing in low-cost countries is best described as a learning-by-doing process in which the offshore outsourcing of a corporation goes through a sequence of stages towards sourcing for innovation. Initially, a corporation’s outsourcing is driven by a desire for cost minimization. Over a period of time the outsourcing experience lessens the cognitive limitations of decision-makers as to the advantages that can be achieved through outsourcing in low-cost countries: the insourcer/vendor may not only offer cost advantages, but also quality improvement and innovation. The quality improvements that offshore outsourcing may bring about evoke a realization in the corporation that even innovative processes can be outsourced.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Maskell & Torben Pedersen & Bent Petersen & Jens Dick-Nielsen, 2005. "Learning Paths to Offshore Outsourcing - From Cost Reduction to Knowledge Seeking," DRUID Working Papers 05-17, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:05-17

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Warren J Bilkey & George Tesar, 1977. "The Export Behavior of Smaller-Sized Wisconsin Manufacturing Firms," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 8(1), pages 93-98, March.
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    5. Otto Andersen, 1993. "On the Internationalization Process of Firms: A Critical Analysis," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 24(2), pages 209-231, June.
    6. Graf, Michael & Mudambi, Susan M., 2005. "The outsourcing of IT-enabled business processes: A conceptual model of the location decision," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 253-268, June.
    7. Fletcher, Richard, 2001. "A holistic approach to internationalisation," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 25-49, February.
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    More about this item


    Offshore outsourcing; cost reduction; innovation; experiential learning; low-cost countries;

    JEL classification:

    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • M55 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Contracting Devices

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