IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hhb/hastba/2013_001.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Service outsourcing and its effects on knowledge

Author

Listed:
  • Richtnér, Anders

    () (Dept. of Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Rognes, Jon

    () (Dept. of Business Administration, Stockholm School of Economics)

Abstract

Purpose 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richtnér, Anders & Rognes, Jon, 2013. "Service outsourcing and its effects on knowledge," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration 2013:1, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2013_001
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://swoba.hhs.se/hastba/papers/hastba2013_001.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Service outsourcing; BPO; knowledge; knowledge transfer; service management;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2013_001. See general 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). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/erhhsse.html .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.