Research Output

Better out than in? Issues and implications of outsourced research and information services for business information professionals.

  The term “outsourcing” represents a number of activities related to the delegation of work from one unit to a third party. There are different “flavours” of outsourcing: the understanding of the term depends upon whether the work is delegated to a third party within the same organization, or externally, and whether the physical location of the staff who carry out the delegated work is within same country as those who delegate the work to them, or abroad. Although the label of “outsourcing” is relatively new to information professionals, the concept of contracting out has been commonplace in library and information work for many years, albeit primarily concerned with two main functions of servicing library “space” (for example security, cleaning and catering) and facilitating document delivery (for example, cataloguing, inter-library loans and journal subscription services). The recent growth area in contracting out services has been in the delivery of information per se in the form of enquiries services or dedicated research, and it is this that is most readily understood as outsourcing in corporate research and information services environment.


Observations of the market for research and information services would indicate that outsourcing is widespread practice. Large, well-known companies in the financial sector rely on partners to cover the research requirements of their in-house analysts. A review of the portfolio of services offered by companies indicates the growth in this industry sector. However, even though outsourcing is growing in business research work, there is a little evidence available to provide an assessment of the extent to which research and information services in UK firms are outsourced. Equally its impact - with regards to both the firm that has adopted this approach to business information services provision, and the careers of business information professionals – has not been explored in detail. This article therefore summarizes the commonly cited benefits and risks of outsourcing research and information services. It then presents some findings of a small-scale research project into perceptions of outsourcing in the business information sector. The individuals surveyed were members of the UK business information community who have experience of establishing relationships with external partners, as well as representatives from three outsourced information service providers. The work set out to establish whether research and information services delivery can be improved through the use of a third party, and to identify strategies which heighten the likelihood of this being achieved. It has also been possible to consider how the adoption of outsourcing strategies impact career roles of business information professionals.

  • Type:

    Article

  • Date:

    30 November 2006

  • Publication Status:

    Published

  • Publisher

    Sage

  • DOI:

    10.1177/0266382107075927

  • ISSN:

    0266-3821

  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    658 General management

Citation

Goody, M. & Hall, H. (2006). Better out than in? Issues and implications of outsourced research and information services for business information professionals. Business Information Review. 25, 36-42. doi:10.1177/0266382107075927. ISSN 0266-3821

Authors

Keywords

business information; information professional; information service; offshoring; outsourcing; research

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