Domestic Outsourcing in the United States: A Research Agenda to Assess Trends and Effects on Job Quality

Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 16-253

67 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2016

See all articles by Annette Bernhardt

Annette Bernhardt

UC Berkeley

Rosemary Batt

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Susan N. Houseman

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Eileen Appelbaum

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Date Written: March 24, 2016

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to develop a comprehensive research agenda to analyze trends in domestic outsourcing in the United States — firms’ use of contractors and independent contractors — and its effects on job quality and inequality. In the process, we review definitions of outsourcing, the available scant empirical research, and limitations of existing data sources. We also summarize theories that attempt to explain why firms contract out for certain functions and assess their predictions about likely impacts on job quality. We then lay out in detail a major research initiative on domestic outsourcing, discussing the questions it should answer and providing a menu of research methodologies and potential data sources. Such a research investment will be a critical resource for policymakers and other stakeholders as they seek solutions to problems arising from the changing nature of work.

Keywords: Outsourcing, subcontracting, independent contractors, staffing services, earnings inequality, job quality, data limitations, managerial theory

JEL Classification: L24, L22, J31

Suggested Citation

Bernhardt, Annette and Batt, Rosemary and Houseman, Susan N. and Appelbaum, Eileen, Domestic Outsourcing in the United States: A Research Agenda to Assess Trends and Effects on Job Quality (March 24, 2016). Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 16-253, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757254 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2757254

Annette Bernhardt

UC Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Rosemary Batt

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-254-4437 (Phone)
607-255-1836 (Fax)

Susan N. Houseman (Contact Author)

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research ( email )

300 South Westnedge Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4686
United States

Eileen Appelbaum

Center for Economic and Policy Research ( email )

1611 Connecticute Ave
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20009
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.cepr.net

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