Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 325–353 | Cite as

Fair Shares: A Preliminary Framework and Case Analyzing the Ethics of Offshoring

  • Cameron Gordon
  • Alan Zimmerman
Original Paper


Much has been written about the offshoring phenomenon from an economic efficiency perspective. Most authors have attempted to measure the net economic effects of the strategy and many purport to show that “in the long run” that benefits will outweigh the costs. There is also a relatively large literature on implementation which describes the best way to manage the offshoring process. But what is the morality of offshoring? What is its “rightness” or “wrongness?” Little analysis of the ethics of offshoring has been completed thus far. This paper develops a preliminary framework for analyzing the ethics of offshoring and then applies this framework to basic case study of offshoring in the U.S. The paper following discusses the definition of offshoring; shifts to the basic philosophical grounding of the ethical concepts; develops a template for conducting an ethics analysis of offshoring; applies this template using basic data for offshoring in the United States; and conducts a preliminary ethical analysis of the phenomenon in that country, using a form of utilitarianism as an analytical baseline. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research.


Business ethics Corporate Social Responsibility Ethics Justice International outsourcing Offshoring Outsourcing U.S. 


  1. Arrow, K. (1950). A difficulty in the concept of social welfare. The Journal of Political Economy, 58(4), 328–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arthur, W. B. (1994). Increasing returns and path dependence in the economy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  3. Balakrishnan, J., & Cheng, C. H. (2005). The theory of constraints and the make-or-buy decision: An update and review. Journal of Supply Chain Management: A Global Review of Purchasing & Supply, 41(1), 40–47.Google Scholar
  4. Bean, L. (2003). The profits and perils of international outsourcing. The Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance, 14, 3–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blinder, A. S. (2006). Offshoring: The next industrial revolution? Foreign Affairs, 85, 113–128.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, S. P., Siegel L. B., & US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2005, August). Mass layoff data indicate outsourcing and offshoring work. Monthly Labor Review, 3–10.Google Scholar
  7. Doh, J. P. (2005). Offshore outsourcing: Implications for international business and strategic management theory and practice. Journal of Management Studies, 42(3), 695–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Donaldson, T., & Dunfee, T. W. (1999). When ethics travel: The promise and peril of global business ethics. California Management Review, 41(4), 45–63.Google Scholar
  9. Donaldson, T., Werhane, P. H., & Cording, M. (2002). Ethical issues in business: A philosophical approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  10. Drezner, D. W. (2004). The outsourcing bogeyman. Foreign Affairs.
  11. Dunning, J. H. (Ed.) (2003). Making globalization good the moral challenges of global capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Engardio, P. (2006, January 30). The future of outsourcing. Business Week, 50–58.Google Scholar
  13. EPI (2004). An introduction to offshoring. EPI issue guide: Offshoring. Washington: Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved February 20, 2006, from
  14. Franceschini, F., Galetto, M., Pignatelli, A., & Varetto, M. (2003). Outsourcing: Guidelines for a structured approach. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 10(3), 246–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. GAO (2004). International trade: Current government data provide limited insight into offshoring of services. U.S. General Accountability Office, GAO-04-932, September 22, 2004.Google Scholar
  16. GAO (2005). Offshoring of services: An overview of the issues. U.S. General Accountability Office, GAO-06-5, November 2005.Google Scholar
  17. Heath, B. (2006). Business ethics without stakeholders. Business Ethics Quarterly, 16(3), 533–557.Google Scholar
  18. Jowett, B. (1985). Plato’s republic (translated). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press (1894).Google Scholar
  19. Kotabe, M., & Murray, J. Y. (2004). Global procurement of service activities by service firms. International Marketing Review, 21(6), 615–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kroll, C. A. (2005). State and metropolitan area impacts of the offshore outsourcing of business services and IT (June 27, 2005). Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics. Fisher Center Working Papers: Paper 293.,
  21. Leonhardt, D. (2005, April 19). Political clout in the age of outsourcing. New York Times, C1.Google Scholar
  22. Leys, S. (1997). The analects of Confucius (translation). New York, NY: W.W. Norton Company.Google Scholar
  23. Madrick, J. (2004, March 18) As job exports rise, some economists rethink the mathematics of free trade. New York Times, C2.Google Scholar
  24. Mankiw, N. G., & Swagel, P. (2005). The politics and economics of offshore outsourcing. American Enterprise Institute, AEI Working Paper #122, December 7, 2005.Google Scholar
  25. Newton, L. H. (2004). Ethics in America: Source reader. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  26. Ross, W. D. (Trans.) (1908). Nicomachean ethics (Aristotle). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  27. Post, J. E., Lawrence, A. T., & Weber, J. (2002). Business and society: Corporate strategy, public policy, ethics. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.Google Scholar
  28. Rai, S. (2006, June 5). India becoming a crucial cog in the machine at I.B.M. New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2006, from
  29. Russell, B. (1975). A history of western philosophy and its connection with political and social from the earliest times to the present day. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  30. Schlegelmilch, B. (1998). Marketing ethics: An international perspective. London: International Thomson Business Press.Google Scholar
  31. Schniederjans, M. J., et al. (2005). Outsourcing and insourcing in an international context. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  32. Whysall, P. (2000). Marketing ethics—an overview. The Marketing Review, 1, 175–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wogaman, J. P. (1993). Christian ethics: A historical introduction. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Business and GovernmentUniversity of CanberraBruceAustralia
  2. 2.Business DepartmentCity University of New York, College of Staten IslandStaten IslandUSA

Personalised recommendations