IT outsourcing strategy : public service management perspectives
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SubjectBritish Columbia Public Service; Bureaucracy; Government; Information Technology; Outsourcing; Technology
Information Technology (IT) outsourcing as a strategy has become an important management tool for most government organizations. It has also been the subject of much academic research. However, there is limited understanding of whether IT outsourcing enables the public service and its employees to perform their operational functions more efficiently and effectively in such bureaucratic structures as the administrative arm of government. Extant research has largely focused on cost saving benefits to the organization. This research aimed to examine the key aspects of IT outsourcing strategy and investigate whether it enables the public service and its employees to perform their operational work in a more efficient and effective manner. The perspectives of senior executives and managers in the public service were canvassed through analysis of (a) key institutional factors in IT outsourcing that relate to public service enablement, (b) management skills and competencies needed in the public service to pursue IT outsourcing strategy, and (c) the critical emerging issues of IT outsourcing in the public service. The methodology adopted for this study was a qualitative single-case study that is rooted in the interpretive paradigm. Primary data included semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with senior and middle management in the British Columbia Public Service (BCPS). The BCPS was chosen because it has experienced huge growth in IT outsourcing in recent years, and it has a declared mandate to equip its employees with the tools necessary to help the organization achieve its objectives. Examination included major policy decisions about IT outsourcing projects undertaken by the BC government from 2001 to 2013. Secondary sources, including official documentation, provided important background data. Key institutional factors in IT outsourcing that enabled the public servants to perform their operational functions in a more efficient and effective manner were identified through this study, as well as some key management skills and competencies needed to pursue IT outsourcing strategy in the public service. Finally, some critical issues facing executives in IT outsourcing that the public service should be aware of to avoid some pitfalls were highlighted. The study provides some practical recommendations for the BCPS based on the integrative framework that includes key tenets and associated themes from the research findings. The framework also serves as a practical guide for the public service in making corporate IT outsourcing decisions that will enhance work in a government bureaucracy.
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