Global multisourcing strategy: The emergence of a supplier portfolio in services offshoring

  • Levina N
  • Su N
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Abstract

In today’s global services outsourcing arena, increasing numbers of companies adopt “multisourcing,” that is, they select and combine information technology (IT) and busi- ness services from multiple providers. The literature on IT outsourcing and supply chain management has identified critical tradeoffs involved in increasing the number of suppliers and has strongly recommended focusing on a handful of strategic partners to balance these tradeoffs. Committing to a few strategic partners, however,may prevent a firm from discovering new suppliers, or even supply regions. Suchmissed opportunities may be particularly limiting in the context of offshoring professional services, which has exhibited rapid changes in suppliermarkets in the last decade. Thus, firms maywant to engage in a more intensive multisourcing in services. If they do so, their success will depend on a global sourcing process that effectively addresses the critical trade- offs involved. To explore how a global sourcing process can support multisourcing, we conducted a qualitative longitudinal case study of a large financial services institution that developed a varied global supply base to obtain offshore professional services. Our analysis results in a theory that emphasizes (i) advantages of a multiple provider strategy in rapidly changing global supply markets; (ii) the critical role of middle managers in enabling continuous innovation in the supplier structure; and (iii) the importance of the global sourcing process combining top–down and bottom–up decision making in multisourcing.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Multisourcing
  • Offshoring
  • Outsourcing
  • Sourcing selection
  • Strategic decision making
  • Strategy process

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Authors

  • Natalia Levina

  • Ning Su

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