Reflections On “The Other Side Of Outsourcing”¶
Julie V. Stanton, Department of Business, The Pennsylvania State University
- publication date
March 01, 2020
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (external link).
- cite as
Stanton, Julie V. (2020), Reflections On “The Other Side Of Outsourcing”, Macromarketing Pedagogy Place, (accessed July 27, 2021), [available at http://pedagogy.macromarketing.org/project/PP202003A/].
Supply Chain Management; Outsourcing
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.
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.
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:
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
Challenges to those companies in outsourcing their customer service, telemarketing, collections efforts as well as challenges to the Indian culture of meeting foreigners’ requirements
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.
The following variations can be used for this project:
Presentation speech length can be shortened depending on course length.
Students can be required to take part in 1 or 2 debates a semester, again depending on course structure.
Students could also be encouraged to go beyond just giving speeches, towards conveying their stance in other ways, if deemed appropriate (e.g., videos).
Grades can be given individually or as a group, or mixed.
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.
Possible in-class topics¶
Below are some sample debate topics that have been used in the classroom, as well as potential supporting content, such as related cases and foundational literature. This supporting content can be assigned to all students to be discussed in-class in addition to the debates or to just the debate teams to further their thinking.
“Companies should [not] use any and all cultural elements in their marketing promotions as they see fit.”
Beninger, Stefanie and June N.P. Francis (2015)
“Marketers should [not] be held responsible if people use their products in an unintended way.”
Berthon, Pierre R., Leyland F. Pitt, Ian McCarthy, and Steven M. Kates
“Marketers are [not] responsible for their customer’s disposal of the products at the end of their lifecycle.”
Khetriwal, Deepali Sinha, Philipp Kraeuchi, and Rolf Widmer
“Stealth/guerilla marketing in public spaces should [not] be allowed with no restrictions.”
Kaikati, Andrew M. and Jack G. Kaikati
(These topics are just suggestions and debate topics can be updated to reflect new and emerging topics of interest.)
Stefanie Beninger and June N.P. Francis. Paul frank and native american stereotypes: a case of misappropriation. Technical Report, Ivey Cases, 2015. URL: https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=68666&CM=true&HID=423.
Pierre R. Berthon, Leyland F. Pitt, Ian McCarthy, and Steven M. Kates. When customers get clever: managerial approaches to dealing with creative consumers. Business Horizons, 50(1):39–47, 2007.
Andrew M. Kaikati and Jack G. Kaikati. Stealth marketing: how to reach consumers surreptitiously. California Management Review, 46(4):6–22, 2004.
Deepali Sinha Khetriwal, Philipp Kraeuchi, and Rolf Widmer. Producer responsibility for e-waste management: key issues for consideration–learning from the swiss experience. Journal of Environmental Management, 90(1):153–165, 2009.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.