Professional Prestige in the Indian LPO Industry

38 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2013

See all articles by Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Swethaa Ballakrishnen

University of California, Irvine School of Law; New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi; Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: May 17, 2013


The impact of Western influences in shaping global attitudes and preferences has been studied in a range of contexts. This paper extends that literature to the labor market context to illustrate how cultural processes and identities of people and institutions alike are continuously shaped and resisted by globalized influences. Using field data from the Indian legal outsourcing industry (collected as part of the HLS PLP Study on LPOs) as well as a detailed content analysis of newspaper reports over time, this paper shows attempts to trace the ways in which association to the West has emerged as a marker of prestige transforming seemingly routine work into valued “global” labor. Universality of professional prestige has traditionally not taken into consideration the effect of globalization as a prestige factor in and off itself. I offer here that in addition to the traditional markers used (for e.g., level of skill, monetary rewards, etc), and especially while trying to understand the emerging-industrialized world, an approach more reflective of the “halo” effect of the West is crucial.

El impacto de la influencia occidental sobre la formación de actitudes y preferencias globales se ha estudiado desde diferentes puntos de vista. Este artículo adopta la literatura sobre el contexto del mercado laboral, para ilustrar cómo se conforman y resisten los procesos culturales e identidades de las personas e instituciones por igual, como consecuencia de las influencias globalizadas. Utilizando datos de campo de la industria india de subcontratación legal (recogidas en el marco del estudio del Programa sobre Abogacía de la Facultad de Derecho de Harvard, sobre subcontratación de servicios legales), así como un análisis detallado de los reportajes periodísticos a lo largo del tiempo, este artículo muestra los intentos de trazar de qué manera la asociación con occidente ha dotado de prestigio un trabajo aparentemente rutinario, transformándolo en un valioso trabajo “global”.

Keywords: Indian Legal Profession, Globalization Effects, Organizational Culture, Abogacía india, efectos de la globalización, cultura organizacional, subcontratación

Suggested Citation

Ballakrishnen, Swethaa, Professional Prestige in the Indian LPO Industry (May 17, 2013). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2013. Available at SSRN:

Swethaa Ballakrishnen (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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