Examining the popularity trajectory of outsourcing as a management concept

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This paper examines the popularity trajectory of outsourcing as a management concept. The paper shows that while outsourcing is an old management practice that has roots that date back centuries, it did not gain widespread popularity as a modern organizational practice until the 1980s. While the initial outsourcing hype and craze of the late 1980s and early 1990s has waned, outsourcing has shown considerable staying power as a management concept, even in the face of counter-movements such as backsourcing and insourcing. Although the experiences with implementation of outsourcing are mixed, outsourcing remains a widely used management concept. However, the current relatively low satisfaction level among users could influence the future popularity trajectory of the outsourcing concept.

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    • Figure 1. Hits for outsourcing
    • Figure 2. Interest in “outsourcing” over time
    • Figure 3. Usage rate of outsourcing
    • Figure 4. Usage and satisfaction rankings
    • Table 1. Influential management gurus involved in legitimizing and popularizing outsourcing in the early phase
    • Table 2. Illustrative examples of books about outsourcing