This chapter provides an introduction to the book, presenting key terms and the scope of the subsequent discussion. Politically controversial, offshore outsourcing has been associated with the dirty work of globalization, but it is also inherently difficult work (even) from a managerial perspective. Outsourcing “engagements” are subject to persistent organizational stress, and ongoing pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Over time, the work has become part of the mid-management grind for many companies. While those involved in outsourcing engagements aspire to move from transactional to transformational approaches, and from cheap-labor arbitrage to more value-adding, partnership-based models involving shared innovation, these goals of “high-road” development are frequently frustrated by the entrenched culture of price-based competition and by the dominance of corporate buyers in supply chains.
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