The future of outsourcing—a threat or blessing?
When offshoring, as part of the globalization process, began some twenty years ago, it was to utilize cheap manual labour in developing countries in Asia such as China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, etc. Factory production of all types of goods from sneakers to electronics to clothes was shifted into factories on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. This did not fail to raise questions and controversy as many economists, politicians and workers argued that this shift is the cause for downsizing factories and loss of jobs in the United States. There are, however, many advantages. Increased productivity at a lower cost has made goods available at much lower prices which benefits consumers around the globe. This trend in off-shore production has acted as an incentive for more people in the United States to obtain college education as the availability of unskilled blue collar factory jobs decreased and the demand for knowledge work increased. In recent years, however, offshoring and outsourcing abroad have been implemented into other, very different sectors of organizations’ functions. Today, knowledge work itself is being outsourced into Asia due to many reasons like cutting labor costs, but also to improve efficiency and make maximum use of resources available (see Figure 1). Numerous tasks such as accounting, programming, customer service, credit rating, research, engineering and even architecture are being handed over to skilled workers in Asia. Is this a new threat faced by U.S. workers? If the trend continues and more and more U.S. workers’ tasks are being performed by
Toneva, Balan 2
educated Asians overseas, does this mean that countless knowledge workers will join the unemployed pool of unskilled workers? Will the jobs left be enough to support the U.S. workforce and exactly how demanding, in terms of knowledge, will the positions available be?
In his book Post-Capitalist Society,...