Motivating Language and Intent to Stay in a Backsourced Information Technology Environment

Motivating Language and Intent to Stay in a Backsourced Information Technology Environment

Lori Farr (University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, USA) and Mary Lind (North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/JGIM.2019070101
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Information technology (IT) backsourcing is a recent phenomenon that is gaining momentum because effective sourcing strategy can have major implications for organizations regarding financial investments, IT infrastructure, and changes in employee outcomes. Recent studies suggest that organizations are bringing their previously outsourced IT operations and services back in-house with one reason being employee dissatisfaction with prior outsourcing experiences. The results of this study indicate that for every 10% increase in motivating language, one can expect to see a 4.3% increase in an IT employee's intent to stay with an organization during a time when backsourcing is occurring.
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Organizations have outsourced information technology (IT) services and support for over three decades expecting gains in efficiency, flexibility, innovation, and quality while reducing costs (Benaroch, Dai, & Kauffman, 2010; Benaroch, Webster, & Kazaz, 2011; Butler, Slack, & Walton, 2011; Freytag et al, 2012; Gorla & Mei, 2010). While some outsourcing arrangements have attained the anticipated outcomes without major problems, others have not, which has led organizations to evaluate the outsourcing problems encountered and re-evaluate their sourcing strategies.

Recent organizational sourcing strategy re-evaluation has resulted in one in four organizations bringing their previously outsourced IT operations back in-house to regain control over the management of those services, regain control of costs, and improve employee outcomes (Bhagwatwar, Hackney, & Desouza, 2011; Freytag et al., 2012). IT backsourcing is the process of bringing IT operations, previously performed by an outside vendor, back in-house with the goal of rebuilding internal capabilities (Veltri, Saunders, & Kavan, 2008; Whitten & Leidner, 2006). This backsourcing is becoming a continuing trend in organizations that have outsourced their products and services.

IT backsourcing is a change in IT business operations during times of organizational change where policies, procedures, culture, and values often shift resulting in poor alignment and structure to include diminished employee outcomes such as reduced job satisfaction and retention levels (Bellou, 2007). Additionally, with the backsourced IT changes, the IT management function transitions from managing outsourcing contracts, to managing the internal business of IT. The backsourced management focus requires effective leadership communication skills because poor leadership communications during times of change can result in diminished employee outcomes such as lower levels of job satisfaction and retention (Homburg, Klarmann, & Staritz, 2012).

Leadership communications using Sullivan’s (1988) motivating language framework is an organizational tool that can improve the impact of strategic leader language on many employee outcomes to include job satisfaction and retention (Mayfield, 2009). Because employees who provide IT services and support are integral to an organization’s performance and productivity, the potential loss of these employees can have harmful effects on an organization’s overall success (Premalatha, 2011). Therefore, retaining IT employees during and after a backsourcing transition is an important determinant of backsourcing success, and understanding leadership communications using motivating language is important.

The purpose of this research study is to investigate whether employee job satisfaction tests the relationship between a supervisor’s use of motivating language and an IT employee’s intent to stay with an organization during a period in which IT backsourcing is occurring. Given the gap in the body of knowledge and research examining the human-side of backsourcing, this research provides an understanding of the leading communications skills needed in the backsourcing change process, and strategies to increase backsourced employee job satisfaction levels.

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