Samasource: Give Work, Not Aid

Posted: 1 Mar 2012 Last revised: 12 Mar 2013

See all articles by Francesca Gino

Francesca Gino

Harvard Business School

Bradley R. Staats

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Date Written: February 22, 2012


Samasource sought to use work, not aid, for economic development. The company secured contracts for digital services from large companies in the United States and Europe, divided the work up into small pieces (called microwork) and then sent it to delivery centers in developing regions of the world for completion through a web-based interface. Different from traditional business process outsourcing companies, Samasource relied on a marginalized population of workers to execute the work. The case explores how the company can grow its capability to help individuals around the globe through the provision of digital work. This case includes color exhibits.

Learning Objective: Understand the challenges and the opportunities around the fragmentation of work (microwork). Understand the opportunity and challenge of running a social business. Consider how to scale the operation while providing quality to customers and protecting employees.

Suggested Citation

Gino, Francesca and Staats, Bradley R., Samasource: Give Work, Not Aid (February 22, 2012). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Case No. 912-011; UNC Kenan-Flagler Research Paper No. 2013-12. Available at SSRN:

Francesca Gino (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Bradley R. Staats

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building, CB#3490
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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