A systems perspective on offshoring strategy and motivational drivers amongst onshore and offshore employees

Extant research tends to view firm level offshoring strategies and micro level motivational drivers as self-contained units of analysis. By contrast, this paper draws on an inductive study of two global service firms to demonstrate how the implementation and success of an advanced task offshoring strategy depends on certain systemic interdependencies between (a) the strategy, (b) onshore employees’ motivation to transfer advanced tasks and (c) offshore employees’ motivation to spend effort on their tasks and stay with the firm. We analyse how these three elements interact and produce feedback loops to create an ‘offshoring system’. Extrapolating from our findings, we propose how the offshoring system is likely to develop within the external constraints set by the attainable expertise of offshore employees and by client demands.