India’s Outsourcing Industry and the Offshoring of Skilled Services Work: A Review Essay


The present paper proposes a framework for understanding the type of work and processes involved in offshoring that treats skills and wages as separate dimensions, and seeks to understand the transformation of work through offshoring. To address the question of the limits of outsourcing, we use our interview data to consider the nature of knowledge transfer and functional collaboration across distances and cultures, as well as the strategic, practical, and regulatory constraints. We see fundamental questions here regarding the existence and maintenance of a non-offshorable corporate strategic “core” and whether the movement of offshoring up the value chain ultimately gravely threatens that “core.” This essay is organized as follows: after defining our terms within a discourse which is famously confused, we address each question in sequence, incorporating relevant literature and interviews. We conclude with a discussion of our findings, and raise some fundamental questions for future research.