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Analysis and management of risks associated with outsourcing in China

Analysis and management of risks associated with outsourcing in China PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to analyse the risks associated with outsourcing production to emerging countries with lower labour costs, namely China, and study actions and plans used to reduce the influence of factors/drivers that induce these risks.Design/methodology/approachThis research uses a multiple case-study methodology, involving seven Canadian manufacturing firms that have chosen an outsourcing strategy in China. It is based on a particular approach of classifying factors/drivers that may generate risks related to this strategy and on interviews with two managers per firm to reduce personal bias.FindingsIn each of the seven cases studied, outsourcing was chosen to take advantage of lower labour costs in China, but in reality, costs were higher than expected due to unforeseen factors inherent to the risks involved. This study reveals that risks generated by factors/drivers such as lack of experience, reduced control over foreign operations and cultural differences are of major concern for managers outsourcing part of their production to China. However, according to some executives that were interviewed, certain actions can be taken by firms to overcome the negative influence of these factors/drivers. Furthermore, some risks may have multiple causes or be induced by other risks.Research limitations/implicationsThe sample of this study was composed of firms from different industrial sectors, and the authors were therefore unable to analyse sector-specific risks. As the industrial sector has an impact on the technical complexity of the products and their components, it would be appropriate to reconduct our research using samples drawn from similar sectors.Practical implicationsThese findings can help guide the decisions of managers wishing to outsource some of their activities to China and other emerging countries. They will contribute to the success of outsourcing strategies to these countries, as they reveal the risks associated with these strategies and the ways to deal with factors/drivers that can induce them. For example, building long-term relationships with Chinese partners based on collaboration, trust and mutual benefit as well as conducting a rigorous prospecting phase and taking time to select the right subcontractor can have a major impact on reducing risks.Originality/valueThe main contribution of this work is the analysis of risks associated with outsourcing to China, based on a categorisation of factors/drivers that can generate these risks, and the study of how firms manage these factors/drivers and control their negative effects. The nature of the practices and actions used to manage important risks depends on the characteristics of the companies, their size, resources and the products they outsource. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Analysis and management of risks associated with outsourcing in China

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1753-8297
DOI
10.1108/SO-08-2015-0018
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to analyse the risks associated with outsourcing production to emerging countries with lower labour costs, namely China, and study actions and plans used to reduce the influence of factors/drivers that induce these risks.Design/methodology/approachThis research uses a multiple case-study methodology, involving seven Canadian manufacturing firms that have chosen an outsourcing strategy in China. It is based on a particular approach of classifying factors/drivers that may generate risks related to this strategy and on interviews with two managers per firm to reduce personal bias.FindingsIn each of the seven cases studied, outsourcing was chosen to take advantage of lower labour costs in China, but in reality, costs were higher than expected due to unforeseen factors inherent to the risks involved. This study reveals that risks generated by factors/drivers such as lack of experience, reduced control over foreign operations and cultural differences are of major concern for managers outsourcing part of their production to China. However, according to some executives that were interviewed, certain actions can be taken by firms to overcome the negative influence of these factors/drivers. Furthermore, some risks may have multiple causes or be induced by other risks.Research limitations/implicationsThe sample of this study was composed of firms from different industrial sectors, and the authors were therefore unable to analyse sector-specific risks. As the industrial sector has an impact on the technical complexity of the products and their components, it would be appropriate to reconduct our research using samples drawn from similar sectors.Practical implicationsThese findings can help guide the decisions of managers wishing to outsource some of their activities to China and other emerging countries. They will contribute to the success of outsourcing strategies to these countries, as they reveal the risks associated with these strategies and the ways to deal with factors/drivers that can induce them. For example, building long-term relationships with Chinese partners based on collaboration, trust and mutual benefit as well as conducting a rigorous prospecting phase and taking time to select the right subcontractor can have a major impact on reducing risks.Originality/valueThe main contribution of this work is the analysis of risks associated with outsourcing to China, based on a categorisation of factors/drivers that can generate these risks, and the study of how firms manage these factors/drivers and control their negative effects. The nature of the practices and actions used to manage important risks depends on the characteristics of the companies, their size, resources and the products they outsource.

Journal

Strategic Outsourcing: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 20, 2016

References