Understanding the Development Implications of Online Outsourcing

Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 504)

Abstract

Online outsourcing (OO) involves global outsourcing of tasks from clients to freelancers via platforms such as Upwork, Guru, Freelancer and Fiverr. Governments and donor agencies in several developing countries are currently starting OO training initiatives to enable access to digital livelihoods for marginalised groups such as youth and women. However, little is known about the impact of these initiatives and in response this paper reports on empirical research into OO projects in Pakistan. Supported by the sustainable livelihoods framework, the analysis shows a context of politico-economic vulnerability. Many freelancers do not succeed but some entrepreneurial individuals motivated by earnings potential are able to generate sufficient livelihoods. Contrary to an image of deinstitutionalised work, this form of digital labour involves a substantial institutional ecosystem. This implies a broad range of stakeholders including the platforms, formal interventions from policymakers and development agencies and the creation of informal support mechanisms.

Keywords

Online outsourcing Digital development Freelancing Gig economy Livelihoods 

References

  1. 1.
    Assemi, B., Schlagwein, D.: Provider feedback information and customer choice decisions on crowdsourcing marketplaces. Decis. Support Syst. 82, 1–11 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barnes, S.A., Green, A., Hoyos, M.: Crowdsourcing and work: individual factors and circumstances influencing employability. New Technol. Work Employ. 30, 16–31 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Beerepoot, N., Lambregts, B.: Competition in online job marketplaces: towards a global labour market for outsourcing services? Glob. Netw. 15, 236–255 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Berg, J.: Income Security in the On-Demand Economy. ILO, Geneva (2016)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bergvall-Kåreborn, B., Howcroft, D.: Amazon mechanical turk and the commodification of labour. New Technol. Work Employ. 29, 213–223 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Carmel, E., Lacity, M.C., Doty, A.: The impact of impact sourcing: framing a research agenda. In: Hirschheim, R., Heinzl, A., Dibbern, J. (eds.) Information Systems Outsourcing. Towards Sustainable Business Value, pp. 397–429. Springer, Heidelberg (2014) Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    DFID: DFID Sustainable Livelihoods Guidance Sheet. DFID, London (1999)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Duncombe, R.: Using the livelihoods framework to analyze ICT applications for poverty reduction through microenterprise. Inf. Technol. Int. Dev. 3(3), 81–100 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ettlinger, N.: The governance of crowdsourcing: rationalities of the new exploitation. Environ. Plann. A 48(11), 2162–2180 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hanley, A., Ott, I.: What Happened to Foreign Outsourcing when Firms Went Online? Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Kiel (2012)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Heeks, R., Arun, S.: Social outsourcing as a development tool: the impact of outsourcing IT services to women’s social enterprises in Kerala. J. Int. Dev. 22, 441–454 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Irani, L., Silberman, M.: From critical design to critical infrastructure: lessons from turkopticon. Interactions 21, 32–35 (2014)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kaganer, E., Carmel, E., Hirschheim, R., Olsen, T.: Managing the human cloud. MIT Sloan Manag. Rev. 54, 23–32 (2013)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    King, N.: Doing template analysis. In: Symon, G., Cassell, C. (eds.) Qualitative Organizational Research, pp. 426–450. Sage Publications Ltd., London (2012)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kuek, S.C., Paradi-Guilford, C., Toks Fayomi, S.I., Ipeirotis, P., Pina, P., Singh, M.: The Global Opportunity in Online Outsourcing. World Bank, Washington, D.C. (2015)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lacity, M., Rottman, J.W., Carmel, E.: Impact sourcing: employing prison inmates to perform digitally-enabled business services. Commun. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 34, 914–932 (2014)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Liang, C., Hong, Y., Gu, B.: Effects of IT-enabled monitoring systems in online labor markets. In: 37th International Conference on Information Systems, Dublin, Ireland (2016)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Madon, S., Sharanappa, S.: Social IT outsourcing and development: theorising the linkage. Inf. Syst. J. 23, 381–399 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Malik, F., Nicholson, B., Morgan, S.: Evaluating impact sourcing: a capabilities perspectives from a case study in Pakistan. In: 13th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Negombo, Sri Lanka (2015)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Malik, F., Nicholson, B., Morgan, S.: Assessing the social development potential of impact sourcing. In: Lacity, M.C., Nicholson, B., Babin, R. (eds.) Socially Responsible Outsourcing: Global Sourcing with Global Impact. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2016)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Monitor: Job Creation Through Building the Field of Impact Sourcing. Monitor, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Palvia, P., Pinjani, P., Sibley, E.H.: A profile of information systems research published in information & management. Inf. Manag. 44, 1–11 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wood, A., Graham, M., Lehdonvirta, V., Barnard, H., Hjorth, I.: Virtual Production Networks: Fixing Commodification and Disembeddedness. UK Development Studies Association Conference, Oxford (2016)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    World Bank: GDP per Capita. World Bank, Washington, D.C. (2016)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Zittrain, J.: The Internet Creates a New Kind of Sweatshop. Newsweek, 7 December 2009Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Zuckerman, M., Kahlenberg, R.D., Marvit, M.: Virtual Labor Organizing. The Century Foundation, New York (2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NUST Business SchoolNational University of Science and TechnologyIslamabadPakistan
  2. 2.Alliance Manchester Business SchoolUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  3. 3.Centre for Development InformaticsUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations