Back to the Drawing Board: Exploring Gestalts of Work Design in BPO Firms
This paper formulates a conceptual framework that proposes that certain work designs could contribute to better organizational performance within a sample of outsourcing firms. It explores this proposition using data collected from 60 outsourcing firms across India through survey and semi-structured interviews using principal components factor analysis, ward's minimum variance method and K-means cluster analysis, four dominant patterns or gestalts of outsourcing firms are identified, namely, involvement, directed intervention, embedded control and containment. This research makes some important contributions towards understanding outsourcing firms. It demonstrates that work designs can take a variety of forms. While involvement and containment designs have been studied in prior literature, two new work designs emerge, namely, directed intervention and embedded control. This paper also contributes to the academic realm. It follows research precedents set in general organizational literature, but which have not been used in the context of outsourcing firms. Just as the theoretical foundation of this study draws from the areas of outsourcing, organization theory and strategic human resource management, so also can the findings of this study be used in research in these disciplines.
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