Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 601–617 | Cite as

Examining the antecedent factors of online microsourcing

  • Baozhou LuEmail author
  • Rudy Hirschheim
  • Andrew Schwarz


In this paper, we empirically investigate what motivates firms to engage in the new outsourcing practice known as online microsourcing. Five antecedent factors involved in making online microsourcing decisions, mainly representing economic and strategic considerations, were identified based on prior research. Our research model was tested with data collected from one of the primary online microsourcing platforms. Our findings suggested that online microsourcing decisions are made more for the convenience of management and for strategic reasons than for purposes of cost reduction. Thus, this study indicates the relevance of a resource-based theory for online microsourcing. Because online microsourcing is generally characterized by small outsourcing deals, with small firms as clients, this paper introduces a new outsourcing practice to the current outsourcing landscape. Finally implications for theory and practice are presented.


Online microsourcing, Crowdsourcing Outsourcing decisions Resource-based theory Antecedent factors 



This work is supported by the Doctoral Fund of Ministry of Education of China (Grant No. 20120133120005) and the Ministry of education of Humanities and Social Science project (Grant No. 13YJC630105). The authors are also very grateful to the editors and the three anonymous reviewers for their excellent comments and invaluable suggestions that have tremendously improved the quality this paper.


  1. Ågerfalk, P. J., & Fitzgerald, B. (2008). Outsourcing to an unknown workforce: exploring opensourcing as an offshore sourcing strategy. MIS Quarterly, 32(2), 385–409.Google Scholar
  2. Ang, S., & Cummings, L. (1997). Strategic response to institutional influences on informational systems outsourcing. Organizational Science, 8(3), 235–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ang, S., & Straub, D. W. (1998). Production and transaction economies and IS outsourcing: a study of the U.S. banking industry. MIS Quarterly, 22(4), 535–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Apte, U. M., Sobol, M. G., Hanaoka, S., Shimada, T., Saarinen, T., Salmela, T., & Vepsalainen, A. P. J. (1997). IS outsourcing practices in the USA, Japan and Finland: a comparative study. Journal of Information Technology, 12(4), 289–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balaji, S., & Ahuja, M. K. (2005). Critical team-level success factors of offshore outsourced projects: a knowledge integration perspective. Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii.Google Scholar
  6. Barney, J. B. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carmel, E. (2008). Micro-sourcing, Is this the eventual global sourcing landscape? Accessed July 15, 2012.
  8. Cheon, M. J., Grover, V., & Teng, J. (1995). Theoretical perspectives on the Outsourcing of information systems. Journal of Information Technology, 10(4), 209–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chiles, T. H., & McMackin, J. F. (1996). Integrating variable risk preferences, trust, and transaction cost economics. Academy of Management Review, 21(1), 73–99.Google Scholar
  10. Chin, W. W. (1998). The partial least squares approach to structural equation modeling. In G. A. Marcoulides (Ed.), Modern methods for business research (pp. 295–336). Mahwah: Lawrence.Google Scholar
  11. Chung, S., Singh, H., & Lee, K. (2000). Complementarity, status similarity and social capital as drivers of alliance formation. Strategic Management Journal, 21(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, T. D., Zmud, R. W., & McCray, G. E. (1995). The outsourcing of information services: transforming the nature of business in the information industry. Journal of Information Technology, 10(4), 221–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coase, R. H. (1937). The nature of the firm. Economica, 4(16), 386–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, L., & Young, A. (2005). Multisourcing: Moving beyond outsourcing to growth and agility. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  15. Collison, C. (1997). Knowledge management in British petroleum. Journal of Knowledge Management, 1(1), 1–5.Google Scholar
  16. Currie, W. L., & Willcocks, L. P. (1998). Analyzing four types of IT sourcing decisions in the context of scale, client/supplier interdependency and risk Mmtigation. Information Systems Journal, 8(2), 119–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis, G. B., Ein-Dor, P., King, W. R., & Torkzadeh, R. (2006). IT offshoring: history, prospects and challenges. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 7(11), 770–795.Google Scholar
  18. Dibbern, J., Goles, T., Hirschheim, R., & Jayatilaka, B. (2004). Information systems outsourcing: a survey and analysis of the literature. Database, 35(3), 6–102.Google Scholar
  19. Doan, A., Ramakrishnan, R., & Halevy, A. Y. (2011). Crowdsourcing systems on the World Wide Web. Communiations of the ACM, 54(4), 86–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Economist. (2004). Survey: outsourcing: a world of work. The Economist, November 11. Accessed July 15 2012.
  21. Economist. (2005). Outsourcing in eastern Europe: the rise of nearshoring. The Economist, December 1. Accessed 25 July 2012.
  22. Espino-Rodríguez, T. F., & Gil-Padilla, A. M. (2005). A resource-based view of outsourcing and its implications for organizational performance in the hotel sector. Tourism Management, 26(5), 707–721.Google Scholar
  23. Feller, J., Finnegan, P., & Fitzgerald, B. (2008). From peer production to productization: a study of social enabled business exchanges in open source service networks. Information Systems Research, 19(4), 475–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fisher, J., Hirschheim, R., & Jacobs, R. (2008). Understanding the outsourcing learning curve: a longitudinal analysis of a large Australian company. Information Systems Frontiers, 10(2), 165–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gebauer, J., Füller, J., & Pezzei R. (2013). The dark and the bright side of co-creation: Triggers of member behavior in online innovation communities. Journal of Business Research, 66(99), 1516–1527.Google Scholar
  27. Gefen, D. (2000). E-commerce: the role of familiarity and trust. Qmega, 28(6), 725–737.Google Scholar
  28. Gefen, D., & Carmel, E. (2008). Is the world really flat? A look at offshoring at an online programming marketplace. MIS Quarterly, 32(2), 367–384.Google Scholar
  29. Gefen, D., Straub, D. W., & Boudreau, M. C. (2000). Structural equation modeling and regression: guidelines for research practice. Community Association Information Systems, 4(7), 1–70.Google Scholar
  30. Goo, J., Kishore, R., & Rao, H. R. (2009). The role of service level agreements in relational management of information technology outsourcing: an empirical study. MIS Quarterly, 33(1), 119–145.Google Scholar
  31. Grant, R. M. (1991). The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: implications for strategy formulation. California Management Review, 33(3), 114–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Grant, R. M. (1996). Toward knowledge-based theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 109–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grover, V., Cheon, M., & Teng, J. T. C. (1994). An evaluation of the impact of corporate strategy and the role of information technology on IS functional outsourcing. European Journal of Information Systems, 3(3), 179–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1998). Multivariate data analysis with readings. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  35. Halvey, J. K., Halvey, J. H., & Melby, B. M. (1996). Information technology outsourcing transactions: Process, strategies, and contracts. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  36. Howe, J. (2006). The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired 14(6), 176–183. Accessed July 15, 2012.Google Scholar
  37. Hu, Q., Saunders, C., & Gebelt, M. (1997). Research report: diffusion of information systems outsourcing: a reevaluation of influence sources. Information Systems Research, 8(3), 288–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huang, Y. A., Chung, H. J., & Lin, C. (2009). R&D Sourcing Strategies: Determinants and Consequences. Technovation, 29(3), 155–169.Google Scholar
  39. Jayatilaka, B., Schwarz, A., & Hirschheim, R. (2003). Determinants of ASP choice: an integrated perspective. European Journal of Information Systems, 12(3), 210–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kaganer, E., Carmel, E., Hirschheim, R., & Olsen, T. (2013). Managing the human cloud. Sloan Management Review, Winter, pp.23–32.Google Scholar
  41. Kang, M., Wu, X., Hong, P., & Park, Y. (2012). Aligning organizational control practices with competitive outsourcing performance. Journal of Business Research, 65(8), 1195–1201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lacity, M., & Hirschheim, R. (1993a). The information systems outsourcing bandwagon. Sloan Management Review, 35(1), 73–86.Google Scholar
  43. Lacity, M., & Hirschheim, R. (1993b). Information systems outsourcing: Myths, metaphors and realities. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  44. Lacity, M., & Willcocks, L. (1995). Interpreting information technology sourcing decisions from a transaction cost perspective: findings and critique. Accounting, Management and Information Technology, 5(3/4), 203–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lacity, M. C., & Willcocks, L. P. (2006). Transforming back offices through outsourcing. In L. P. Willcocks & M. C. Lacity (Eds.), Global sourcing of business and It services (pp. 1–34). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  46. Lacity, M., Hirschheim, R., & Willcocks, L. (1994). Realizing outsourcing expectations. Incredible expectations, credible outcomes. Information Systems Management, 11(4), 7–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lee, J.-N., Huynh, M., & Hirschheim, R. (2008). An integrative model of trust on IT outsourcing: examining a bilateral perspective. Information Systems Frontiers, 10(2), 145–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Loh, L. (1994). An organizational-economic blueprint for information technology outsourcing: concepts and evidence. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Information Systems (pp. 73–89), Vancouver, Canada.Google Scholar
  49. Loh, L., & Venkatraman, N. (1992). Diffusion of information technology outsourcing: influence sources and the Kodak Effect. Information Systems Research, 3(4), 334–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lu, B., & Zeng, Q. (2011). Global delivery of service via online platforms: Service models, challenges and research agenda. Proceedings of International Conference on Management and Service Science (MASS, pp. 1–6), Wuhan, China.Google Scholar
  51. Malone, T. W., & Laubacher, R. J. (1998). The dawn of the E-lance economy. Harvard Business Review, 76(5), 145–152.Google Scholar
  52. Markus, M. L. (2007). The governance of free/open source software projects: monolithic, multidimensional, or configurational? Journal of Management and Governance, 11(2), 151–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Massolution (2013). The crowd in the cloud: Exploring the future of outsourcing. Accessed 15 March 2013.
  54. McKnight, D. H., Choudhury, V., & Kacmar, C. (2002a). Developing and validating trust measures for E-commerce: an integrative typology. Information Systems Research, 13(3), 334–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McKnight, D. H., Choudhury, V., & Kacmar, C. (2002b). The impact of initial consumer trust on intentions to transact with a web site: a trust building model. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 11(3/4), 297–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. McLellan, K. L., Marcolin, B. L., & Beamish, P. W. (1995). Financial and strategic motivations behind IS outsourcing. Journal of Information Technology, 10(4), 299–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nohria, N., & Garcia-Pont, C. (1991). Global strategic linkages and industry structure. Strategic Management Journal, 12(S1), 105–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Obal, L. (2009). Microsourcing—using information technology to create unexpected work relationships and entrepreneurial opportunities. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 24, 161–174.Google Scholar
  59. Pavlou, P. A. (2003). Consumer acceptance of electronic commerce: integrating trust and risk with the technology acceptance model. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 7(3), 69–103.Google Scholar
  60. Pavlou, P. A., & Dimoka, A. (2006). The nature and role of feedback text comments in online marketplaces: implications for trust building, price premiums, and seller differentiation. Information Systems Research, 17(4), 392–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pavlou, P. A., & Gefen, D. (2004). Building effective online marketplaces with institution-based trust. Information Systems Research, 15(1), 37–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pavlou, P. A., Liang, H., & Xue, Y. (2007). Understanding and mitigating uncertainty in online exchange relationships: a principal-agent perspective. MIS Quarterly, 31(1), 105–136.Google Scholar
  63. Podsakoff, S. B., MacKenzie, B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Prahalad, C., & Hamel, G. (1990). The core competence of the corporation. Harvard Business Review, 68(3), 79–91.Google Scholar
  65. Ringle, C. M., Wende, S., Will, S. (2005). SmartPLS 2.0 (M3) Beta, Hamburg,
  66. Roach, S. (2003). Coping with the Global Labor Arbitrage. Morgan Stanley Global Economic Forum. Accessed 20 July 2012.
  67. Rousseau, D. M., Sitkin, S. B., Burt, R. S., & Camerer, C. (1998). Not so different after all: a cross-discipline view of trust. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 393–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rumelt, R. (1974). Strategy, structure, and economic performance. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Schwarz, A., Hirschheim, R., Jayatilaka, B., & Goles, T. (2009). A conjoint approach to understanding IT application services outsourcing. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10(10), 748–781.Google Scholar
  70. Segars, A. H., & Grover, V. (1998). Strategic information systems planning success: an investigation of the construct and its measurement. MIS Quarterly, 22(2), 139–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Seth, A., & Thomas, H. (1994). Theories of the firm implications for strategy research. Journal of Management Studies, 31(2), 165–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Shi, Y. (2007). Today’s solution and tomorrow’s problem: the business process outsourcing risk management puzzle. California Management Review, 49(3), 28–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Slaughter, S., & Ang, S. (1996). Employment outsourcing in information systems. Communications of the ACM, 39(7), 47–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Smartsheet (2009). Paid Crowdsourcing: Current State and Progress Toward Mainstream Business Use. Accessed 15 November 2011.
  75. Smith, M. A., Mitra, S. A., & Narasimhan, S. (1998). Information systems outsourcing: a study of pre-event firm characteristics. Journal of Management Information Systems, 15(2), 61–93.Google Scholar
  76. Sobol, M. G., & Apte, U. M. (1995). Domestic and global outsourcing practices of America’s most effective IS users. Journal of Information Technology, 10(4), 269–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Stevensen, H. H. (1976). Defining corporate strengths and weaknesses. Sloan Management Review, 27(3), 51–68.Google Scholar
  78. Teng, J., Cheon, M., & Grover, V. (1995). Decisions to outsource information systems functions: testing a strategy–theoretic–discrepancy model. Decision Sciences, 26(1), 75–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wade, M., & Hulland, J. (2004). Review: the resource-based view and information systems research: review, extension and suggestions for future research. MIS Quarterly, 28(1), 107–142.Google Scholar
  80. Williamson, O. E. (1975). Market and hierarchies: Analysis and antitrust implications, a study in the economics of internal organization. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  81. Williamson, O. E. (1985). The economic institutions of capitalism. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  82. Yasuda, H. (2005). Formation of strategic alliances in high-technology industries: comparative study of the resource-based theory and the transaction-cost theory. Technovation, 25(7), 763–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics & ManagementChina University of PetroleumQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department, E.J. Ourso College of BusinessLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations