Innovations in outsourcing: the emergence of impact sourcing
2015-11-24T11:01:03Z (GMT) by
Newly emerging information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) models are not just about business . Some of these models are also guided by a strong underlying social mission to do good and create social value . Collectively they are now being referred to as impact sourcing (ImS) models. In brief, ImS is a social innovation in outsourcing that aims to bring digitally-enabled outsourcing jobs to marginalized individuals. The ImS model of outsourcing consciously provides employment opportunities to communities and groups whose life chances are deemed poor. In this thesis we study ImS companies, i.e., IT-BPO vendor firms, which aim to create a significant impact (hence the term impact sourcing ) on the lives of hitherto disadvantaged and deprived communities by giving them gainful employment and thereby improving their material conditions. Using qualitative methods, the thesis takes multiple approaches to study the ImS model. The thesis is comprised of three empirical chapters, each exploring a different aspect of the ImS model. Chapter 2, using a multiple case-study approach, draws on concepts from social entrepreneurship to study the triggers of ImS entrepreneurship and the process through which ImS entrepreneurs build and operate ImS companies. The chapter also looks into the institutional influences that have shaped the ImS model. Most importantly, the findings demonstrate the inherent difficulty of scaling and sustaining the ImS model, as it is the individual entrepreneurs intense personal experiences, not market-based considerations, which play a crucial role in launching new ImS companies. Drawing on the initial findings of Chapter 2, Chapter 3 explores the challenges of operating ImS companies in marginalized communities. Specifically, the chapter analyzes how ImS companies frame their ventures to the local community, drawing on frame alignment literature. The findings from this chapter suggest that local communities are not passive recipients of ImS companies framing work and may indeed resist ImS company activities for reasons such as the perceived incompatibility of the ImS model with local norms and belief systems and perceptions of inequality stemming from the merit-based recruitment strategies underpinning the model. The chapter finds that deployment of progress, family, material-benefit and egalitarianism frames may help ImS companies to overcome resistance, and gain the acceptance of local communities. While Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the ImS companies and their founders, Chapter 4 analyzes the challenges faced by marginalized individuals as they transition into the ImS workplace from their relatively traditional community spaces. The findings suggest that the distinct norms and values embodied in the community space and the ImS workplace create challenges for ImS employees. In response to these challenges, the findings show that ImS employees craft a variety of coping strategies such as integration and compartmentalization to manage work and non-work boundaries. ImS employees were also found to create fictive kinships, experiment with provisional selves and craft jobs to cope with the socioculturally alien environment of ImS workplaces. Overall, the thesis makes theoretical and practical contributions to the small but growing business and management literature on the ImS phenomenon. The thesis also makes theoretical contributions to the literatures on social entrepreneurship, frame alignment and organizational studies.