Offshoring administrative and technical work: New fields for understanding the global enterprise

Martin Kenney, Silvia Massini, Thomas P. Murtha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we introduce the Journal of International Business Studies Special Issue on Offshoring Administrative and Technical Services (ATS). In doing so, we have attempted to locate the topic within the international business research tradition, as well as suggest challenges and opportunities that the phenomenon offers to theoretical and empirical research in the field. We examine the interplay of costs, knowledge, and innovation in the evolution of ATS offshoring from modest beginnings to its current stature as an accepted business practice. We suggest that understanding the continuing evolution of ATS offshoring requires researchers to take into account not only the business imperative of cost-saving, but also a more complex set of underlying factors and potential outcomes. We argue that the rapid growth of ATS offshoring has brought about an accumulation of resources, including financial flows, knowledge, infrastructure and human capital to create new platforms for knowledge creation and innovation. Low costs may characterize the initial conditions for offshoring, but they also provide the basis for up-market moves as firms increasingly pursue innovation-based strategies. We introduce the papers in the Special Issue as integral elements in our discussion, contributing new ideas that stimulated our thinking and, hopefully, will do the same for others seeking to understand this emerging area of globalization and international managerial practice. © 2009 Academy of International Business All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-900
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • Externalization strategies
  • Firm boundaries
  • International outsourcing
  • Knowledge sourcing
  • Offshoring


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