Firm Enablement through Outsourcing: A Longitudinal Analysis of how Outsourcing Enables Process Improvement under Financial and Competence Constraints

Henri C. Dekker*, Erik Mooi, Alexandra Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The dominant view is that outsourcing is driven by efficiency considerations. We demonstrate that a different path to outsourcing originates from critical internal resource shortages. These shortages pose a critical dilemma; on the one hand outsourcing is a reasonably durable approach to solving resource shortages. On the other hand, the same resource shortages complicate the management of outsourcing and may create knowledge and evaluation problems. We empirically examine this dilemma and thereby add to the limited work on the enabling effects of outsourcing under resource constraints. We employ two rich and unique panel datasets of Australian firms observed over five-year periods, to test dynamic change models if firm-level financial and competence constraints induce outsourcing, and if this in turn enables internal process improvement. The results show that outsourcing indeed is associated with both financial and competence constraints, although the impact of these constraints differs over time. In turn, we find that increased outsourcing relates positively to contemporaneous and future process improvement. These findings thus shed a positive light on how outsourcing can enable firms to overcome constraints and realize internal process improvement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)124-132
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Outsourcing
  • Enablement
  • Financial constraints
  • Competence constraints
  • Process improvement

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