Offshore outsourcing- the movement of jobs to lower-wage countries- is one of the defining features of globalization. Routine blue-collar work has been going offshore for decades, but the digital revolution beginning in the 1990s extended this process to many parts of the service economy too. Politically controversial from the beginning, "offshoring" is conventionally seen as a threat to jobs, wages, and economic security in higher-income countries, having become synonymous with the dirty work of globalization. Even though the majority of corporations make some use of offshore outsourcing, fearful of negative publicity most now choose to manage these activities in a discreet manner. Partly as a result, the global sourcing business, reckoned to be worth more than $120 billion, largely operates under the radar, its ocean-spanning activities in low-cost labour arbitrage being poorly documented and poorly understood.
Offshore is the first sustained investigation of the workings of the global sourcing industry, its business practices, its market dynamics, its technologies, and its politics. The book traces the complex transformation of the worlds of global sourcing, from its origins in the new international division of labour in the 1970s, through the rapid growth of back-office economies in India and the Philippines since the 1990s, to the development of "nearshore" markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Recently, this evolving process of geographical and organizational restructuring has included experiments in "backshoring" within low-cost, ex-urban locations in the United States and a wave of software-enabled automation, which threatens to remove labour from many back offices altogether. In these and other ways, the offshore revolution continues.
Offshore is a superb book of very wide significance. Employing a sophisticated, multi-layered, nuanced analysis Jamie Peck really gets inside this elusive and opaque industry whose rapidly evolving practices are transforming business and economic landscapes at a global scale with potentially immense economic, social and political implications. It is, without doubt, a major contribution. * Peter Dicken, Emeritus Professor University of Manchester *
Jamie Peck details the workings of outsourcing industry, the culture it creates, and the levels to which firms are willing to go to deliver on a contract. At bottom, outsourcing is about cost; higher up, it is accompanied by evangelical promises of organizational efficiency; and in some cases there are truly transformational results, with wholly new capabilities and smoothly running global operations. This book is a must read if you wish to understand how companies
decide what to outsource and what they expect will result, once the armies of business consultants have finished their work. * Amy Katherine Glasmeier, Professor of Economic Geography and Regional Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology *
Offshore is a revelatory exploration of the offshore outsourcing complex what many of us consider the heart of darkness of the modern global economy. Crossing oceans and continents in pursuit of his quarry, Jamie Peck examines it from every angle the corporations who see outsourcing as a way to cut expense and bother, the providers of outsourcing services who scramble for contracts in a dog-eat-dog competitive nightmare, the domestic politics and
politicians, the constantly churning geography (offshore, nearshore, onshore) and the looming fear of automation. Who knew that the unhappy providers yearn for respect and dream of a time when they will be strategic partners rather than bottom feeders? Who knew that everyone in the business agrees that outsourcing
hardly ever works well? Offshore is first-class research and fascinating to read. * Erica Schoenberger, Dept of Environmental and Health Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University *
1: Introduction: Going Offshore
2: Exploring Outsourcing Space
3: Outsourcing Politics
4: Into the Outsourcing Complex
5: Between Nearshore and Backshore
6: No shore, or the Road to Robotistan
7: Conclusion: Beyond Offshore?