8.4 Conclusion and implications


8.4 Conclusion and implications

All of the cases described in this book have been analysed to varying degrees from the power and culture perspective, as these concepts are related to most, if not all, human activities. We have illustrated this with some examples. As in the Sierra case discussed in chapter 7, management said that a major reason for opening the Indian subsidiary was to obtain greater levels of control over reward structures, motivation and creativity of staff. Subsequently, the issue of ˜encultured knowledge was a key factor in the failure of Sierra to maintain its offshore subsidiary. In the GlobTel case, the use of expatriates and training programs to standardize operations to the advantage of Globtel managers is another instance of how culture and power can be interlinked.

This case shows how a combination of the use of documents, devices and drilled humans using methods and information technologies for communication can serve as instruments of control. Compliant, and ˜traditionally skilled , Indian programmers facilitated control both in Gowing UK and the Eron developers in UK and India. This is not the first study of power structures guiding and empowering action with regard to IS design and implementation (for example, Zuboff 1988). Markus (1983) was one of the early writers in the IS discipline to provide a comprehensive analysis of power within a longitudinal case study. The issue of power is also regarded as important in IS outsourcing, and there are studies that have addressed the issue. Lacity and Hirschheim (1993) and Kern and Silva (1998) analyse outsourcing cases focusing on power relations, but these studies do not explore global contexts, which is the contribution of this case. Previous related studies have also focused primarily on decisions of outsourcing and less on the management of GSA relationships over time.

A central implication concerns the need to understand the complex power, culture and control implications of GSA. Gowing still continues in its acquisition of new firms. In 1999, Jones was promoted within Cass to take control of several of the group s companies and has begun to implement the same GSA strategy. The GSA process has led to growth for the different organizational actors; Eron is taking up more sophisticated, strategic work, and is also now involved in other areas of the Cass group . The quality methodologies imposed by Eron have permitted a ˜disciplined approach to spread out to other aspects of Gowing and also Cass. As the contract has widened, Cass have exerted more financial control over Eron, enabling it to resist price rises and assignments of key Eron staff. The GSA relationship exists in a dialectic of control as Eron has built up significant knowledge of Gowing as its sole provider in an almost total outsourcing arrangement. Both companies are thus in a state of mutual dependency “ Eron is dependent on the scale of the Cass contract and Gowing is dependent on Eron for internal staff to manage operations.

It is important to consider the implications of the analysis for the research and practice of GSA in India. The research implications include the provision of a framework for examining the issues involved in GSA that takes into account macro theory. Giddens theoretical writings permit sophisticated analysis of the various structural forces that come into play as the process of software development becomes more globally distributed. This case study highlights the need to view this phenomenon in the light of a broader social context and against the backdrop of the effects of globalization. Specifically, the case analysis highlights the value of examining GSA from a structurational viewpoint . The case demonstrates the effects that globalization brings when sociological structures from different countries are brought together across time and space, and knowledge in the shape of methodology is disembedded and reembedded. The implications of globalization are seen to be both mutual and bi-directional . The case study also provides an interesting contribution to Foucault s analysis, drawing attention to the additional dimensions of time, space and absence with regard to the spatialization aspect of discipline and control.

In a period of extreme excitement and optimism regarding the so-called ˜virtual organization, this case study presents a contribution to that debate, sensitizing theorists to some of the unintended and also potentially negative and often overlooked implications. Walsham (1994) alluded to this point in an exchange with Mowshowitz (1994). Organization theorists or IS designers concerned with developing methodologies or frameworks should be made aware of the political and cultural implications of the outsourcing of knowledge work.

With regard to the implications for management practice, this case study provides insight into some ˜information age practices. The case explains how globalization provided the opportunity to circumvent the UK workforce and offered novel control possibilities to Gowing management. However, this strategy takes a view of organization that is concerned with the abstract requirements of a task and the required means which in a sense are stripped away from the task itself. Workers are seen in an instrumental way to be satisfiers within the process. This strategy represents a reinforcement of the Fordist methods of production that have significant implications for issues of long- term job satisfaction, respect for the worker and their loyalty to the company. This position has been extensively subject to critique elsewhere in the IS literature (e.g. Mumford 1983). The strategy at Gowing is particularly noteworthy, given that the most recent writings on the management of ˜knowledge organizations and ˜network organization call for partnership, trust, and cooperation with employees (e.g. Handy 1999). This case study offers a different picture based on a management paradigm focusing on narrow economic issues at the cost of the loyalty, emotions and aspirations of employees .