Reflections on “The Other Side of Outsourcing”

author

Julie V Stanton, Department of Business, The Pennsylvania State University

publication date

March 01, 2020

licence

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (external link).

cite as

Stanton, Julie (2020), Reflections on “The Other Side of Outsourcing,” Macromarketing Pedagogy Place, (accessed August 21, 2020), [available at http://pedagogy.macromarketing.org/project/PP202003A/].

topics

Supply Chain Management; Outsourcing

activities

Individual Assignment

Summary

This assignment uses a report by Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, for the Discovery Times Channel in 2004 called “The Other Side of Outsourcing”.

The reporter investigates the context of American, UK and Australian firm outsourcing in India, and includes reflection on who participates, what it takes to be a participant, how companies manage an endless but untrained workforce, and how cultural factors influence the success of outsourcing.

For the assignment, the general idea is to provide access to the video to students, and have them reflect in a guided way on the benefits and costs of outsourcing as depicted therein. This provides them with a macro view of an otherwise profit-oriented business decision.

Rationale

In business classes where outsourcing is a topic, this strategic decision is often characterized as a necessity to reduce costs and stay competitive in the market. Very little attention is typically given to the impact on the receiving country other than to point to increased job creation and transfer of technology.

This report, while somewhat aged, clearly illustrates the broader impacts of outsourcing, both good and bad. It allows the student to engage with real stories of outsourcing employment, changes in culture, generational conflicts, increased income levels for the few, and other macromarketing topics.

Classroom example

I assign this in a supply chain management class where the topic is outsourcing, and I ask the students to watch on their own time (for extra credit) and provide reflection on these topics:

  1. Clear benefits to American, UK and Australian companies who use Indian call centers and other outsource providers as well as the benefits to the Indian worker and economy

  2. Challenges to those companies in outsourcing their customer service, telemarketing, collections efforts as well as challenges to the Indian culture of meeting foreigners’ requirements

  3. Ethical questions associated with outsourcing

I give them a simple worksheet to help structure their responses and encourage them to review the whole video. The assignment can be used for a grade or for extra credit. Of late, I have used it mostly for extra credit although we then discuss the students’ views in class and I often work the topic and examples into an exam essay question.

Feedback from students

Students generally do not have difficulty filling the worksheet with meaningful examples of benefits and challenges of outsourcing, and are usually eager to discuss it in class.

In a class of 30 students, I probably have 8-10 who do the assignment, given that it’s not required. I encourage them to watch alongside their friends as a way to increase the social ‘feel’ of the task, given that the video is nearly 45 minutes long. Every student who does turn in their reflection says they really enjoyed the video.

Resources

Worksheets

Available worksheets for this project.

File

Description

Format

Size

The Other Side of Outsourcing (Worksheet)

PDF

37K

The Other Side of Outsourcing (Worksheet)

DOCX

16K

References