Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: The Moral Case on Outsourcing: How Good, Bad, or Ugly is it for America and the World?

Is offshore outsourcing good or bad for America? There are a thousand answers and, of course, everyone thinks their answers are right.

The Moral Case on Outsourcing: How Good, Bad, or Ugly is it for America and the World? delves into the hot button issues of the outsourcing debate. The author, Scott Phillips, takes a deep look into the moral, social and political ramifications of this contentious industry.

An admitted insider on the provider side, who also spent time in the Peace Corps, he remains objective, provides the hard-cold facts and is fair and balanced in confronting both sides of the debate. Throughout the book, Phillips asks the readers, taking all positions into account, to make the decision for themselves:

“These are the biggest of my big ideas on how to help Americans succeed in the face of the vast changes underway in the global economy. They are aggressive. They are specific. You can decide whether they are right.” (Page10)

“If we address the offshoring aspect of this debate exclusively in utilitarian terms, a simple cost-benefit analysis seems to suggest the benefit side wins.  Of course, the reader could weigh the costs and benefits differently or new information could become available that swings the argument either way.” (Page 145)

Phillips provides straightforward research: costs – job loss, labor exploitation, environmental damage and commodity inflation to name a few; benefits – cheaper goods, better services, saving jobs and poverty reduction to name a few; the moral case – utilitarian case, campfire test, trolley car problem and narrative bias to name a few; and remedies – growing America, green revolution, zero deficit and strategic growth markets to name a few. He covers much more than the above list.

Snippets sure to entice:

“Using the 22.5 million base rate for annual layoffs and separations, the rate of job loss from offshoring represents about 2.0 – 2.5 percent of total layoffs and discharges in the US economy each year.” (Page 33)

“Outsourcing is widely reviled as a cause of job loss. But by allowing companies to preserve businesses that would otherwise fail—to reduce costs and remain viable in the face of competitive threats—it also results in companies surviving and, therefore, jobs being saved.” (Page 89)

“As a nation, we are under-investing, running down our assets and infrastructure, and squandering opportunities for economic growth now and in the future. Our aging infrastructure is simply wearing out.” (Page 189)

Clearly, much needs to be considered in this debate. Scott Phillips has laid the foundation; those interested in the outsourcing debate, and we know there are a couple of you out there, will find much to ponder here. 

Please share your thoughts, recommend a book for us to review or give us a review of this or another outsourcing book.
Kate Tulloch-Hammond, IAOP Manager of Media & Communications


  1. 2%! I had to read that again. I look forward to reading the book - hopefully it's available as an e-book.

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