MIS Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 331-364, September 2003
49 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2008
Date Written: September 25, 2003
To date, most research on IT outsourcing concludes that firms decide to outsource IT services because they believe that outside vendors possess production cost advantages. Yet, it is not clear whether vendors can provide production cost advantages, particularly to large firms who may be able to replicate vendors' production cost advantages in house. Mixed outsourcing success in the past decade calls for a closer examination of the IT outsourcing vendor's value proposition. While the client's sourcing decisions and the client-vendor relationship have been examined in IT outsourcing literature, the vendor's perspective has hardly been explored. In this paper we conduct a close examination of vendor strategy and practices in one long-term successful applications management outsourcing engagement. Our analysis indicates that the vendor's efficiency was based on the economic benefits derived from the ability to develop a complementary set of core competencies. This ability, in turn, was based on the centralization of decision rights from a variety and multitude of IT projects controlled by the vendor. The vendor was enticed to share the value with the client through formal and informal relationship management structures. We use the economic concept of complementarity in organizational design, along with prior findings from studies of client-vendor relationships, to explain the IT vendors' value proposition. We further explain how vendors can offer benefits that cannot be readily replicated internally by client firms.
Keywords: Outsourcing of IS, Case Study, Complementarity in Organizational Design, IS Core Competencies, Management of Computing and IS, Systems Maintenance, IS Staffing Issues, IS Project Management, Core Competency Theory, Resource-Based View of the Firm
JEL Classification: D20, D23, L86, M12, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Levina, Natalia and Ross, Jeanne W., From the Vendor's Perspective: Exploring the Value Proposition in IT Outsourcing (September 25, 2003). MIS Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 331-364, September 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1269025