In recent years, the ICT branch has experienced new internationalization impulses through the improvement of offshore practices. Particularly the development of modularization and standardization of some production processes have crucially contributed to enabling offshoring in globalized areas of ICT. Competencies as well as innovation sources have increasingly fragmented; resting upon cooperation and trust principles. Quality standards play a crucial role to satisfy and optimize these coordination and regulation needs so to warrant quality outcomes. In this chapter, I will give an overview of the development of quality standards related to offshore projects, focusing particularly on recent practices in Europe. To illustrate the importance of quality standards and quality management for ICT off- and nearshore projects, and moreover for the internationalization of the ICT branch, I present some preliminary results of my work in progress. From the perspective of project managers in large ICT firms, quality standards play a very important role as the internal controlling instrument of working and communication processes; as well as an external mechanism beyond the ICT network in order to get market advantages.
During the late 1990s and particularly in 2000, the ICT sector has shown an enormous expansion, especially influenced by the development of the Internet, extended application areas and the former favorable economic situation. The commercialization and expansion of the Internet as a working basis, particularly in the 1990s, played in this phase a crucial role to begin enabling compatibilities in cross-national working practices; as well as creating a basis to build common knowledge exchange arenas that are fundamental for the further internationalization of the ICT branch. Thus, the use of the internet as an exchange working platform represented one of the first enabling steps toward the organization of work in global contexts in the sector, overcoming time and space barriers in working processes (Castells, 2001) (Editor note: Castells is not listed in the references section.) Whereas organization control during the early 1990s concentrated on core firms that operated with local outsourcing companies to compete in an increasingly dynamic environment, involving new actors and customers around the world. In the late 1990s, the new diffusion and communication basis, supported by the Internet, contributed to the development of a new organizational paradigm known as network organization. Competencies, as well as innovation sources, have increasingly fragmented; resting upon cooperation and trust principles. Nonetheless, networks need to coordinate their operation activities and their innovation expectancies to guarantee the quality of their working processes, their staff and their customer-focused outcomes. And moreover, they are often bound to national and international regulations of working and production practices.
Network organizations must find a consensus regarding customer groups, innovation, quality and performance goals. Once these goals, as well as coordinative and regulative standards, are integrated within quality management systems, they serve as a legitimate basis for network performance.
Particularly in recent years, the ICT branch has experienced new internationalization impulses through the improvement of task delegation to foreign organizations, or in other words, offshore practices. The development of modularization and standardization of these production processes have crucially contributed to enabling offshoring in globalized areas of ICT.