Self-interest or the greater good: How political and rational dynamics influence the outsourcing process

Donna Marshall, Eamon Ambrose, Ronan McIvor, Richard Lamming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of the influence of political goals and behaviour on the outsourcing decision process and outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach
The research used an exploratory longitudinal case-based approach. Eight outsourcing projects in three telecommunications companies were analysed from the initial decision to the outcome of the case.

Findings
The authors show how political goals and behaviours influence the outsourcing decision process and inductively develop four political goals: personal reputation, attainment, elimination and control. The authors also identify three dynamic outsourcing paths: the personal reputation path, which leads to successful outcomes; the short-term attain and eliminate path leading to unsuccessful outcomes; and the destabilised path, which leads to mixed outcomes. All of these can be tested in other empirical settings.

Research limitations/implications
The implications for outsourcing literature are that political intentions influence the decision process and outcomes. For theorists, the authors provide an understanding of how political and rational goals and behaviour interact to impact outsourcing outcomes: with political and rational goals and behaviour complementary in some instances. The limitations are that with a small sample the findings are generalisable to theoretical propositions rather than to a population.

Practical implications
The implications for managers are the ability to identify and manage political goals that influence outsourcing decision process and outcomes.

Originality/value
For the first time, the authors uncover the political goals that impact the outsourcing decision process and outcomes. The authors add to the outsourcing literature, transaction cost theory and resource-based theory by defining and understanding the political goals that complement these theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-576
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2015

Keywords

  • Outsourcing
  • Case study

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