Surviving in Global Online Labor Markets for IT Services: A Geo-economic Analysis

Irfan Kanat, Yili Hong, T. S. Raghu

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Global online labor markets (OLMs) lower the barriers to entry and enable global competition for information technology (IT) services from providers around the world. Although the prior OLM literature predominantly found systematic advantages for IT service providers from developed countries because of their higher perceived quality, the reality is that most service providers in OLM are from developing countries. This phenomenon requires a robust analysis of how OLMs are evolving. In this study, we conduct a geo-economic analysis on IT service providers’ survival utilizing a unique longitudinal panel data set from an OLM, which comprises 40,874 IT service providers from different countries over a period of more than four years (2006 to 2010). Based on results from Survival models and a series of robustness checks, we were able to decipher how geo-economic factors (specifically the country development level) and reputation interact to determine service providers’ survival. Our findings provide a different perspective from the prior literature on OLM by showing a systematic advantage for IT service providers from developing countries in terms of survival, especially when providers from developing countries were able to signal their individual quality through reputation. We explain and discuss the mechanisms underlying these effects, and highlight implications for OLMs for IT services.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)893–909
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Global online labor markets
  • IT services
  • International labor
  • Survival models

Cite this