Enablers and Barriers of Knowledge Sharing for Offshore Outsource ISD Project: A Case Study

Enablers and Barriers of Knowledge Sharing for Offshore Outsource ISD Project: A Case Study

Hans Solli-Sæther (BI Norwegian Business School, Norway) and Jan Terje Karlsen (BI Norwegian Business School, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9562-7.ch052
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Abstract

Many firms increase their flexibility and raise their information systems development (ISD) capacity by exploiting qualified personnel in low cost countries. Since ISD is a knowledge-intensive activity, knowledge sharing is particularly critical in an offshore outsourcing context. The purpose of this study is to investigate effects of enablers and barriers to knowledge sharing in offshore ISD projects. This research is important, as there is a need to understand knowledge organizations case by case to develop effective and contingent strategies to increase knowledge sharing. The empirical data are based on a qualitative case study with in-depth interviews following a semi-structured approach. In this research we investigate a Norwegian based information systems service provider and their offshoring of ISD to Bangladesh. The paper contributes to understanding the role and specific challenges of knowledge sharing in offshoring ISD projects. The empirical results showed that structural as well as political, cultural and personal enablers play an essential role in facilitating knowledge sharing. The role of the Scrum methodology, in particular, with its daily Scrum meeting should be underlined because it enables coordination, communication and knowledge sharing between the parties. Additionally, several key barriers hindering knowledge sharing were discovered such as lack of direct personal interaction, time differences, poor infrastructure, cultural heterogeneity, and different personalities.
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Offshore Outsourcing

Kern and Willcocks (2002, p. 3) define IT outsourcing as “[…] a process whereby an organisation decides to contract-out or sell the firm’s IT assets, people and/or activities to a third party supplier, who, in exchange, provides and manages these assets and services for an agreed fee over an agreed time period.” From a business perspective, outsourcing is motivated by the promise of strategic, financial and technological benefits (Lee & Kim, 1999). According to Venkatraman (2004), offshore outsourcing or “offshoring” is the practice among U.S. and European companies of migrating business processes overseas to India, the Philippines, Ireland, China and elsewhere to lower costs without significantly sacrificing quality. Cost reduction, support of companies’ growth strategies, competitive pressure, and access to qualified personnel for example, are strategic drivers for offshoring (Lewin & Peeters, 2006).

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