An analysis of the application of process improvement techniques in business process outsourcing

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5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the application of process improvement techniques (PITs) in the business process outsourcing (BPO) process. The paper focuses on how PITs impact the BPO process, and identifies a number of key enablers of applying PITs in the BPO process.Design/methodology/approach– The paper employs a case study approach. In-depth case study analysis of a number of organisations that have employed a number of PITs in BPO is carried out.Findings– The findings support current literature that highlights the importance of formal contracting, relational contracting, and vendor capabilities for applying PITs in BPO. However, the findings also highlight the importance of additional factors, not widely considered in the current literature. The client must possess internal capabilities in PITs and change management to ensure process improvement occurs. Moreover, the findings here have shown that the client must invest in and develop the resources that enhance its capability to employ PITs in BPO.Originality/value– The findings highlight the importance and relevance of process improvement to BPO, and identify a number of important issues for further research in order to bridge the gap between these two complementary areas.
LanguageEnglish
Pages321-343
JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Dec 2014

Fingerprint

Process improvement
Business process outsourcing
Vendors
Factors
Contracting
Design methodology
Change management
Enablers
Resources
Relational contracting

Keywords

  • Change management
  • Relational contracting
  • Business process outsourcing
  • Formal contracting
  • Process improvement technique

Cite this

@article{e0a2f48c218447ab8d1c368d424eff9e,
title = "An analysis of the application of process improvement techniques in business process outsourcing",
abstract = "Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the application of process improvement techniques (PITs) in the business process outsourcing (BPO) process. The paper focuses on how PITs impact the BPO process, and identifies a number of key enablers of applying PITs in the BPO process.Design/methodology/approach– The paper employs a case study approach. In-depth case study analysis of a number of organisations that have employed a number of PITs in BPO is carried out.Findings– The findings support current literature that highlights the importance of formal contracting, relational contracting, and vendor capabilities for applying PITs in BPO. However, the findings also highlight the importance of additional factors, not widely considered in the current literature. The client must possess internal capabilities in PITs and change management to ensure process improvement occurs. Moreover, the findings here have shown that the client must invest in and develop the resources that enhance its capability to employ PITs in BPO.Originality/value– The findings highlight the importance and relevance of process improvement to BPO, and identify a number of important issues for further research in order to bridge the gap between these two complementary areas.",
keywords = "Change management, Relational contracting, Business process outsourcing, Formal contracting, Process improvement technique",
author = "Ronan McIvor",
note = "Reference text: Anand, G., Ward, P., Tatikonda, M. and Schilling, D. (2009), “Dynamic capabilities through continuous improvement infrastructure”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 444-461. Argryes, N. and Mayer, K. (2007), “Contract design as a firm capability: an integration of learning and transaction cost perspectives”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 1060-1077. Bahli, B. and Rivard, S. (2005), “Validating measures of information technology outsourcing risk factors”, Omega, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 175-187. Baker, G., Gibbons, R. and Murphy, K. (2002), “Relational contracts and the theory of the firm”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 39-84. Barthelemy, J. (2003), “The hard and soft sides of IT outsourcing management”, European Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 539-548. 340 IJQRM 33,3 Downloaded by University of Ulster At 01:55 06 September 2016 (PT) Beer, M. and Eisenstat, R. (2000), “The silent killers of strategy implementation and learning”, Sloan Management Review, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 29-40. Buchanan, D. and Badham, R. (1999), Power, Politics and Organizational Change – Winning the Turf Game, Sage Publications, London. Das, T. and Teng, B. (1998), “Between trust and control: developing confidence in partner cooperation in alliances”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 491-512. Done, A., Voss, C. and Rytter, N. (2011), “Best practice interventions: short-term impact and long-term outcomes”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 500-513. Eisenhardt, K. and Graebner, M. (2007), “Theory building from cases: opportunities and challenges”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 50 No. 1, pp. 25-32. Eisenhardt, K. (1989), “Building theories from case study research”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 532-550. Eisenhardt, K.M. and Martin, J.A. (2000), “Dynamic capabilities: what are they?”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 21 Nos 10/11, pp. 1105-1121. Ellram, L.M., Tate, W. and Billington, C. (2008), “Offshore outsourcing of professional services: a transaction cost economics perspective”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 148-163. Feeny, D., Lacity, M. and Willcocks, L. (2005), “Taking the measure of outsourcing providers”, MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 41-48. Goo, J., Kishore, R., Nam, K., Rao, H. and Song, Y. (2007), “An investigation of factors that influence the duration of IT outsourcing relationships”, Decision Support Systems, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 2107-2125. Grant, R. (1996), “Towards a knowledge-based theory of the firm”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 109-122. Gummesson, E. (1991), Qualitative Methods in Management, Sage, London. Handley, S. and Benton, W. (2012), “The influence of exchange hazards and power on opportunism in outsourcing relationships”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 55-68. Handley, S. and Benton, W. (2013), “The influence of task-and location-specific complexity on the control and coordination costs in global outsourcing relationships”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 109-128. Handley, S. and Benton, W. (2009), “Unlocking the business outsourcing process model”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 344-361. Holcomb, T. and Hitt, M. (2007), “Toward a model of strategic outsourcing”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 464-481. Huber, G. (1991), “Organizational learning: the contributing processes and the literatures”, Organization Science, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 88-115. Klepper, R. and Jones, W.O. (1998), Outsourcing Information Technology, Systems and Services, Prentice-Hall, New York, NY. Kotter, J. (2007), “Leading change: why transformation efforts fail”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85 No. 1, pp. 96-103. Lacity, M. and Fox, J. (2008), “Creating global shared services: lessons from Reuters”, MIS Quarterly Executive, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 17-32. Lacity, M., Willcocks, L. and Rottman, J. (2008), “Global outsourcing of back office services: lessons, trend, and enduring challenges”, Strategic Outsourcing: an International Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 13-34. 341 Business process outsourcing Downloaded by University of Ulster At 01:55 06 September 2016 (PT) Li, Y., Liu, Y., Li, M. and Wu, H. (2008), “Transformational offshore outsourcing: empirical evidence from alliances in China”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 257-274. Lowman, M., Trott, P., Hoecht, A. and Sellam, Z. (2012), “Innovation risks of outsourcing in pharmaceutical new product development”, Technovation, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 99-109. McIvor, R. (2005), The Outsourcing Process: Strategies for Evaluation and Management, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. McIvor, R. (2009), “How the transaction cost theories and resource-based theories of the firm inform outsourcing evaluation”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 45-63. McIvor, R. (2010), Global Services Outsourcing, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. McIvor, R. and McHugh, M. (2000), “Partnership sourcing: an organization change management perspective”, Journal of Supply Chain Management, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 12-20. Madhok, A. and Tallman, S. (1998), “Resources, transactions, and rents: managing value through inter-firm collaborative relationships”, Organization Science, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 326-339. Malik, A. and Blumenfeld, S. (2012), “Six Sigma, quality management systems and the development of organisational learning capability: evidence from four business process outsourcing organisations in India”, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 71-91. Mani, D., Barua, A. and Whinston, A. (2010), “An empirical analysis of the impact of information capabilities design on business process outsourcing performance”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 39-62. Mellewigt, T., Madhok, A. and Weibel, A. (2007), “Trust and formal contracts in interorganizational relationships – substitutes and complements”, Managerial and Decision Economics, Vol. 28 No. 8, pp. 833-847. Narayanan, S., Jayaraman, V., Luo, Y. and Swaminathan, J.M. (2011), “The antecedents of process integration in business process outsourcing and its effect on firm performance”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 3-16. Perunovic, Z., Christoffersen, M. and Mefford, R.N. (2012), “Deployment of vendor capabilities and competences throughout the outsourcing process”, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 351-374. Poppo, L. and Zenger, T. (2002), “Do formal contracts and relational governance function as substitutes or complements?”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 707-725. Ring, P.S. and van de Ven, A.H. (1992), “Structuring cooperative relationships between organizations”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 13 No. 7, pp. 483-498. Sako, M. (1992), Prices, Quality, and Trust: Inter-firm Relations in Britain and Japan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Sako, M. (2009), “Technology strategy and management globalization of knowledge-intensive professional services”, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 52 No. 7, pp. 31-33. Shafer, S. and Moeller, S. (2012), “The effects of Six Sigma on corporate performance: an empirical investigation”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 30 Nos 7/8, pp. 521-532. Shi, Y. (2007), “Today’s solution and tomorrow’s problem: the business process outsourcing risk and management puzzle”, California Management Review, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 27-44. Stake, R. (1995), The Art of Case Research, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA. Stringfellow, A., Teagarden, M. and Nie, W. (2008), “Invisible costs in offshoring services work”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 164-179. 342 IJQRM 33,3 Downloaded by University of Ulster At 01:55 06 September 2016 (PT) Swink, M. and Jacobs, B. (2012), “Six Sigma adoption: operating performance impacts and contextual drivers of success”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 437-453. Tate, W. and van der Valk, W. (2008), “Managing the performance of outsourced customer contact centres”, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 160-169. Teirlinck, P. and Spithoven, A. (2013), “Research collaboration and R&D outsourcing: different R&D personnel requirements in SMEs”, Technovation, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 142-153. Trkman, P. (2013), “Increasing process orientation with business process management: critical practices”, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 48-60. Weeks, M. and Feeny, D. (2008), “Outsourcing: from cost management to innovation and business value”, California Management Review, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 127-146. Williamson, O.E. (1985), The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets and Relational Contracting, Free Press, New York, NY. Yin, R. (1994), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Beverly Hills. Youngdahl, W. and Ramaswamy, K. (2008), “Offshoring knowledge and service work: a conceptual model and research agenda”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 212-221. Zaheer, A., McEvily, B. and Perrone, V. (1998), “Does trust matter? Exploring the effects of interorganizational and interpersonal trust on performance”, Organization Science, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 141-159. Zellmer-Bruhn, M. (2003), “Interruptive events and team knowledge acquisition”, Management Science, Vol. 49 No. 4, pp. 514-528. Further reading Barney, J.B. (1991), “Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage”, Journal of Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 99-120. McIvor, R. (2008), “What is the right outsourcing strategy for your process?”, European Management Journal, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 24-34. Sako, M. (2006), “Outsourcing and offshoring: implications for productivity of business services”, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 499-512. Yin, R. (1984), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage Publications, London.",
year = "2014",
month = "12",
day = "15",
doi = "10.1108/IJQRM-04-2014-0045",
language = "English",
volume = "33",
pages = "321--343",
journal = "International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management",
issn = "0265-671X",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - An analysis of the application of process improvement techniques in business process outsourcing

AU - McIvor, Ronan

N1 - Reference text: Anand, G., Ward, P., Tatikonda, M. and Schilling, D. (2009), “Dynamic capabilities through continuous improvement infrastructure”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 444-461. Argryes, N. and Mayer, K. (2007), “Contract design as a firm capability: an integration of learning and transaction cost perspectives”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 1060-1077. Bahli, B. and Rivard, S. (2005), “Validating measures of information technology outsourcing risk factors”, Omega, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 175-187. Baker, G., Gibbons, R. and Murphy, K. (2002), “Relational contracts and the theory of the firm”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 39-84. Barthelemy, J. (2003), “The hard and soft sides of IT outsourcing management”, European Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 539-548. 340 IJQRM 33,3 Downloaded by University of Ulster At 01:55 06 September 2016 (PT) Beer, M. and Eisenstat, R. (2000), “The silent killers of strategy implementation and learning”, Sloan Management Review, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 29-40. Buchanan, D. and Badham, R. (1999), Power, Politics and Organizational Change – Winning the Turf Game, Sage Publications, London. Das, T. and Teng, B. (1998), “Between trust and control: developing confidence in partner cooperation in alliances”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 491-512. Done, A., Voss, C. and Rytter, N. (2011), “Best practice interventions: short-term impact and long-term outcomes”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 500-513. Eisenhardt, K. and Graebner, M. (2007), “Theory building from cases: opportunities and challenges”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 50 No. 1, pp. 25-32. Eisenhardt, K. (1989), “Building theories from case study research”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 532-550. Eisenhardt, K.M. and Martin, J.A. (2000), “Dynamic capabilities: what are they?”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 21 Nos 10/11, pp. 1105-1121. Ellram, L.M., Tate, W. and Billington, C. (2008), “Offshore outsourcing of professional services: a transaction cost economics perspective”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 148-163. Feeny, D., Lacity, M. and Willcocks, L. (2005), “Taking the measure of outsourcing providers”, MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 41-48. Goo, J., Kishore, R., Nam, K., Rao, H. and Song, Y. (2007), “An investigation of factors that influence the duration of IT outsourcing relationships”, Decision Support Systems, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 2107-2125. Grant, R. (1996), “Towards a knowledge-based theory of the firm”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 109-122. Gummesson, E. (1991), Qualitative Methods in Management, Sage, London. Handley, S. and Benton, W. (2012), “The influence of exchange hazards and power on opportunism in outsourcing relationships”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 55-68. Handley, S. and Benton, W. (2013), “The influence of task-and location-specific complexity on the control and coordination costs in global outsourcing relationships”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 109-128. Handley, S. and Benton, W. (2009), “Unlocking the business outsourcing process model”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 344-361. Holcomb, T. and Hitt, M. (2007), “Toward a model of strategic outsourcing”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 464-481. Huber, G. (1991), “Organizational learning: the contributing processes and the literatures”, Organization Science, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 88-115. Klepper, R. and Jones, W.O. (1998), Outsourcing Information Technology, Systems and Services, Prentice-Hall, New York, NY. Kotter, J. (2007), “Leading change: why transformation efforts fail”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85 No. 1, pp. 96-103. Lacity, M. and Fox, J. (2008), “Creating global shared services: lessons from Reuters”, MIS Quarterly Executive, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 17-32. Lacity, M., Willcocks, L. and Rottman, J. (2008), “Global outsourcing of back office services: lessons, trend, and enduring challenges”, Strategic Outsourcing: an International Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 13-34. 341 Business process outsourcing Downloaded by University of Ulster At 01:55 06 September 2016 (PT) Li, Y., Liu, Y., Li, M. and Wu, H. (2008), “Transformational offshore outsourcing: empirical evidence from alliances in China”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 257-274. Lowman, M., Trott, P., Hoecht, A. and Sellam, Z. (2012), “Innovation risks of outsourcing in pharmaceutical new product development”, Technovation, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 99-109. McIvor, R. (2005), The Outsourcing Process: Strategies for Evaluation and Management, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. McIvor, R. (2009), “How the transaction cost theories and resource-based theories of the firm inform outsourcing evaluation”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 45-63. McIvor, R. (2010), Global Services Outsourcing, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. McIvor, R. and McHugh, M. (2000), “Partnership sourcing: an organization change management perspective”, Journal of Supply Chain Management, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 12-20. Madhok, A. and Tallman, S. (1998), “Resources, transactions, and rents: managing value through inter-firm collaborative relationships”, Organization Science, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 326-339. Malik, A. and Blumenfeld, S. (2012), “Six Sigma, quality management systems and the development of organisational learning capability: evidence from four business process outsourcing organisations in India”, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 71-91. Mani, D., Barua, A. and Whinston, A. (2010), “An empirical analysis of the impact of information capabilities design on business process outsourcing performance”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 39-62. Mellewigt, T., Madhok, A. and Weibel, A. (2007), “Trust and formal contracts in interorganizational relationships – substitutes and complements”, Managerial and Decision Economics, Vol. 28 No. 8, pp. 833-847. Narayanan, S., Jayaraman, V., Luo, Y. and Swaminathan, J.M. (2011), “The antecedents of process integration in business process outsourcing and its effect on firm performance”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 3-16. Perunovic, Z., Christoffersen, M. and Mefford, R.N. (2012), “Deployment of vendor capabilities and competences throughout the outsourcing process”, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 351-374. Poppo, L. and Zenger, T. (2002), “Do formal contracts and relational governance function as substitutes or complements?”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 707-725. Ring, P.S. and van de Ven, A.H. (1992), “Structuring cooperative relationships between organizations”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 13 No. 7, pp. 483-498. Sako, M. (1992), Prices, Quality, and Trust: Inter-firm Relations in Britain and Japan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Sako, M. (2009), “Technology strategy and management globalization of knowledge-intensive professional services”, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 52 No. 7, pp. 31-33. Shafer, S. and Moeller, S. (2012), “The effects of Six Sigma on corporate performance: an empirical investigation”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 30 Nos 7/8, pp. 521-532. Shi, Y. (2007), “Today’s solution and tomorrow’s problem: the business process outsourcing risk and management puzzle”, California Management Review, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 27-44. Stake, R. (1995), The Art of Case Research, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA. Stringfellow, A., Teagarden, M. and Nie, W. (2008), “Invisible costs in offshoring services work”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 164-179. 342 IJQRM 33,3 Downloaded by University of Ulster At 01:55 06 September 2016 (PT) Swink, M. and Jacobs, B. (2012), “Six Sigma adoption: operating performance impacts and contextual drivers of success”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 437-453. Tate, W. and van der Valk, W. (2008), “Managing the performance of outsourced customer contact centres”, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 160-169. Teirlinck, P. and Spithoven, A. (2013), “Research collaboration and R&D outsourcing: different R&D personnel requirements in SMEs”, Technovation, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 142-153. Trkman, P. (2013), “Increasing process orientation with business process management: critical practices”, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 48-60. Weeks, M. and Feeny, D. (2008), “Outsourcing: from cost management to innovation and business value”, California Management Review, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 127-146. Williamson, O.E. (1985), The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets and Relational Contracting, Free Press, New York, NY. Yin, R. (1994), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Beverly Hills. Youngdahl, W. and Ramaswamy, K. (2008), “Offshoring knowledge and service work: a conceptual model and research agenda”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 212-221. Zaheer, A., McEvily, B. and Perrone, V. (1998), “Does trust matter? Exploring the effects of interorganizational and interpersonal trust on performance”, Organization Science, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 141-159. Zellmer-Bruhn, M. (2003), “Interruptive events and team knowledge acquisition”, Management Science, Vol. 49 No. 4, pp. 514-528. Further reading Barney, J.B. (1991), “Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage”, Journal of Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 99-120. McIvor, R. (2008), “What is the right outsourcing strategy for your process?”, European Management Journal, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 24-34. Sako, M. (2006), “Outsourcing and offshoring: implications for productivity of business services”, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 499-512. Yin, R. (1984), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage Publications, London.

PY - 2014/12/15

Y1 - 2014/12/15

N2 - Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the application of process improvement techniques (PITs) in the business process outsourcing (BPO) process. The paper focuses on how PITs impact the BPO process, and identifies a number of key enablers of applying PITs in the BPO process.Design/methodology/approach– The paper employs a case study approach. In-depth case study analysis of a number of organisations that have employed a number of PITs in BPO is carried out.Findings– The findings support current literature that highlights the importance of formal contracting, relational contracting, and vendor capabilities for applying PITs in BPO. However, the findings also highlight the importance of additional factors, not widely considered in the current literature. The client must possess internal capabilities in PITs and change management to ensure process improvement occurs. Moreover, the findings here have shown that the client must invest in and develop the resources that enhance its capability to employ PITs in BPO.Originality/value– The findings highlight the importance and relevance of process improvement to BPO, and identify a number of important issues for further research in order to bridge the gap between these two complementary areas.

AB - Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the application of process improvement techniques (PITs) in the business process outsourcing (BPO) process. The paper focuses on how PITs impact the BPO process, and identifies a number of key enablers of applying PITs in the BPO process.Design/methodology/approach– The paper employs a case study approach. In-depth case study analysis of a number of organisations that have employed a number of PITs in BPO is carried out.Findings– The findings support current literature that highlights the importance of formal contracting, relational contracting, and vendor capabilities for applying PITs in BPO. However, the findings also highlight the importance of additional factors, not widely considered in the current literature. The client must possess internal capabilities in PITs and change management to ensure process improvement occurs. Moreover, the findings here have shown that the client must invest in and develop the resources that enhance its capability to employ PITs in BPO.Originality/value– The findings highlight the importance and relevance of process improvement to BPO, and identify a number of important issues for further research in order to bridge the gap between these two complementary areas.

KW - Change management

KW - Relational contracting

KW - Business process outsourcing

KW - Formal contracting

KW - Process improvement technique

U2 - 10.1108/IJQRM-04-2014-0045

DO - 10.1108/IJQRM-04-2014-0045

M3 - Article

VL - 33

SP - 321

EP - 343

JO - International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management

T2 - International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management

JF - International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management

SN - 0265-671X

IS - 3

ER -