Brand: Outsourcing

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    According to this short piece by CIO reporter Stephanie Overby, outsourcing “suffers from an image problem.” That’s the conclusion one can draw from results of an Opinion Research poll. “Among 1,000 Americans surveyed, 72%…said outsourcing is ‘really all about corporate greed.’” A quarter “associated the word ‘outsourcing’ with job losses.”

    It’s the ol’ problem of ignorance — not understanding that a goodly number of workers go to work for the service provider or believing that somehow every job function outsourced goes offshore.

    Ms. Overby references the contradictions held on the topic. While most people think outsourcing is good for the “world economy,” they also think it’s bad for the US. And while nearly 7 in 10 respondents believe ‘the public can influence a company’s offshoring decisions by boycotting its products,” only 5 in 10 would pay an extra 20% for an American-made product.

    Maybe it’s time to come up with some new terminology for the process. Some experts have started using “global” attached to the concept — “globalization of the workforce” — but that probably suffers from the same image problems. (Whenever I hear the word “globalization,” my mind instantly reverts to images of protesters breaking Starbucks’ windows in Seattle. I can’t help myself.)

    Let’s see what else comes to mind…

    How about “subcontracting”? I suppose that one brings to mind a housepainter who brings in his friend to handle the woodsiding repair.

    Or “externalizing”? That sounds like something you do with your therapist in the privacy of her office.

    “Third-party-izing?” Never ask an editor to turn a noun or adjective into a verb. Besides, in this case, shouldn’t it be “second-party-izing?”

    Well, for now, I’ll stick to “sourcing.” Whenever I tell people what I do and use that term, most don’t really think or are too polite to ask what it means. But I always volunteer an explanation. I figure it’s a chance to educate people, one at a time. Maybe they’ll be among those enlightened members of the public who are surveyed by Opinion Research the next time the topic comes up.

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