night if necessary….the school [CSR]
thing is just a little part of that—it just
Similarly, this was mirrored by the
provider: “People stay longer, some-
times they’re investing a lot of their
time and it’s not paid, I won’t neces-
sarily see it on my bottom line, but you
will see it on the productivity of that
project, of hitting targets, etc.”
For the outsource provider and buy-
er, the enhanced trust improves organi-
zational and individual interpersonal
communications. CFS managers told
us that joint CSR agendas can be anoth-
er tool in building effective communi-
cations and business relationships. As
one CFS executive explained: “I would
just say it massively helps with our rela-
tionship and how we work together, and
what it does when you’re working with
people painting a classroom or clearing
a play area, you also bring in teamwork
and there’s so many other things that
come into it, other skills, communica-
tion. You really get to know the people
who you’re working with, and when you
see them out of a techie environment, it
makes a huge difference.”
Social networks established outside
of the formal work environment on
CSR projects tended to lead to esteem
between individuals and friendly re-
lationships. Subsequently, staff from
both buyer and provider organizations
felt able to cut through the formal orga-
nizational communications hierarchy
to solve problems rather than resort-
ing to formal contractual resolution. A
Steria executive echoed a similar senti-
ment: “So when you’ve been to these
places and shared the experience with
people, it does help form a very close
relationship…Let’s face it, in outsourc-
ing things don’t go perfectly well over
time, they don’t and that’s the real-
buyers to work
providers on CsR
initiatives will grow.
ity of it. You’re in a world where you’re
delivering projects and services. It’s a
fast-moving world and not all projects
go perfectly well. Good relationships
get you through those situations…you
keep the clients that you have, and
that’s about strong relationships.”
Directions on CsR for Gito
Buyers and Providers
What lessons does our research provide for buyers and providers of outsourcing services? We have three suggestions.
˲ ˲ More providers should explore the
collaborative CSR option, and seek to
match CSR projects with buyers in order to build trust and commitment,
reduce attrition, improve productivity,
and increase organizational and interpersonal communications. In addition
to shared views on CSR, buyers should
expect CSR leadership from their outsourcing providers.
˲ ˲ Buyers will increasingly demand
evidence of compliance with global
CSR standards such as the GRI and
the UN Global Compact. In a review of
outsource provider public profiles we
found that the large global providers
demonstrated mature CSR capabilities
in terms of meeting global standards,
while the mid-tier or smaller outsourcer providers are still building their CSR
2 We also found that buyers
infrequently validate the provider CSR
claims. So a caution to outsource buyers: beware of unsubstantiated CSR
claims, particularly from small and
mid-tier providers. Several independent consultancies are able to assist
buyers with CSR audits of potential
˲ ˲Although our case example focused on social responsibility, environmental responsibility is also a
component of CSR concern for global
IT outsourcing buyers. Providers with
data centers and related technologies
must be able to demonstrate energy
efficiency that exceeds the levels set by
buyers and required by governments.
For example, a provider should be able
to demonstrate reduced carbon emissions through power management that
is more efficient than the buyer could
achieve. In accordance with environmental responsibility, outsource providers must increasingly comply with
government and industry standards.
In light of the benefits reported in this
research, opportunities for buyers to
work cooperatively with providers on
CSR initiatives will grow. There will be
continued uptake of CSR practices by
providers, and buyers will need to determine their individual appetite and
focus for working collaboratively on
Finally, we should note that this
research is indicative of the reported benefits of collaborative CSR but
there are many factors at play. The
research has highlighted potentially
significant business benefits. However, isolating and quantifying the
value of collaborative CSR in substantiated financial terms has not been
fully proven. Our research is continuing to examine collaborative CSR at
CFS and at other organizations. We
welcome comments and contributions from other organizations with
similar CSR experiences.
1. babin, r. and nicholson, b. Corporate social and
environmental responsibility in global it outsourcing.
MIS Quarterly Executive 8, 4 (Dec. 2009), 123–132.
2. babin, r. and nicholson, b. how green is my
outsourcer: Measuring sustainability in global it
outsourcing. Strategic Outsourcing, International
Journal 4, 1 (Jan. 2011), 47–66.
3. babin, r. and nicholson b. sustainability Practices
in global it outsourcing. Manchester business
school research Paper 602, university of Manchester
u. K. (June 2010); http://papers.ssrn.com/
4. elkington, J. towards the sustainable corporation:
Win-win-win business strategies for sustainable
development. California Management Review 36, 2
(Feb. 1994), 90–100.
5. emerson, J. the blended value proposition:
integrating social and financial returns. California
Management Review 45, 4 (apr. 2003), 35–51.
6. Porter, M. and Kramer M. Creating shared value.
Harvard Business Review 89, 1/2 (Jan.–Feb. 2011),
7. Porter, M. and Kramer M. strategy and society: the
link between competitive advantage and corporate
social responsibility. Harvard Business Review 84, 12
(Dec. 2006), 78–92.
8. Willcocks, l.P. and lacity M. The Practice of
Outsourcing: From I TO to BPO and Offshoring.
Palgrave, london, 2009.
Ron Babin ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is an assistant
professor and associate director at the ted rogers
school of it Management at ryerson university in
toronto and a doctoral candidate at the Manchester
business school, u.K.
Steve Briggs ( email@example.com) is the head of
strategic Partnerships at Co-operative Financial services
(CFs) in Manchester, u. K., where he has managed several
major outsourcing relationships, and is also a director of
the u.K. national outsourcing association.
Brian nicholson ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
is a senior lecturer at Manchester business school and
has been involved in teaching, research, and consultancy
projects in the broad area of global outsourcing of
software and other business processes since 1995.
Copyright held by author.