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Outsourcing

  • By: Christian Sellar
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Outsourcing refers to subcontracting a production process, or the provision of a service, to a third-party company. As a result of outsourcing, firms transfer entire business functions to external service providers. Geographers have contributed to the study of outsourcing by investigating (a) the spatial aspects of outsourcing, (b) the social and cultural effects of the trade flows generated by outsourcing, and (c) the role of outsourcing in the globalization of the economy.

Geographical work on outsourcing originated in the 1980s, when the Fordist system of mass production entered a worldwide crisis. The geographers Allen Scott and Michael Storper, working on industrial change in California, described the emergence of tightly interconnected networks of small firms in place of the previously integrated large businesses. Without using the term ...

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