One encouraging outcome was that after students
understood methods for dealing with the negative
impact of outsourcing, no student considered dropping IS as a major. Even if their first two solutions
didn’t work, only 17% of the students would consider
dropping IS as a major. These results indicate that
with such valuable information at hand most students
would be confident about choosing IS as a major.
It is interesting to note that more students agreed
that the job market should be fully determined by
market forces (25%) compared to those who disagreed (13%), with 56.25% students being unsure.
On the other hand, 43.75% of the students still
believed the government should take action to protect
IS jobs from being outsourced (with 37.5% disagreeing and 18.5% not sure). This may indicate that even
though students rationally thought the job market
should be fully determined by market forces, it would
be human nature to sometimes let self-interest supersede logic, resulting in students essentially preferring
job protection. Indeed, politicians may still have an
opportunity to use this offshoring issue to create
media controversy in the future.
A research project designed to cause students to
construct their own conclusions was largely effective
in terms of facing and dealing with the negative perceptions toward the potential of future opportunities
in the IS field. Enrollment data from Ohio University’s MIS department by the end of 2005 showed that
more than 70% of the IS majors were taking a double major with another business major. This indicates
that most IS majors understand the value of broadening their major to make it more marketable.
The approach described here applies to students
who are currently IS majors. The next step is to apply
this approach to students who have not yet decided
on a major or might be willing to consider adding IS
as a major. OU’s IS department has completed a
major curricular revision with a focus on integrating
business analysis and systems development throughout the curriculum. All these efforts have reversed the
recent decline in enrollment in the IS program and
have increased enrollment in the major by 30% to
date. Many factors may be contributing to this reversal including the revision of the curriculum and the
recent turnaround in the job market. The approach
outlined here could be an additional factor applied in
the introductory IS course to allow all business majors
to see that IS is a viable major.
In addition, this approach may be also relevant to
a CS program. For example, those students might also
consider the double-major as one possible choice as
well, by taking some business courses or a project
104 June 2008/Vol. 51, No. 6 COMMUNICA TIONS OF THE ACM
The challenge created by offshore outsourcing to IS
and CS education programs is so huge that many
such programs, if not all, have experienced serious
enrollment decreases in recent years. Professional
associations in the field have realized the importance
of this challenge, and have called for effective and
creative methods to deal with it.
This article described one potential method that
has proven successful at Ohio University. We believe
this method is also easily implemented in other IS or
CS programs at other universities facing the same
problem. It is our belief that the IS (or CS) enrollment decrease in recent years, partially due to IS outsourcing, is a temporary phenomenon, which should
be faced seriously and can be solved by using creative
and effective methods.
Our suggested approach is not a solution to all the
problems related to IS enrollment decreases. Other
solutions, such as meeting the challenges of the global
economy, skills related to entrepreneurship and project management, knowledge, and experience related
to global e-commerce and m-commerce [ 5], and
overseas internship experiences are also important [ 1].
It is our hope the method presented here stimulates
more creative methods and provide better solutions to
this important issue in the near future.
1. Aspray, W., Mayadas, F., and Vardi, M. Y., Eds. Globalization and Offshoring of Software: A Report of the ACM Job Migration Task Force
2. Drezner, D. W. The outsourcing boogeyman. Foreign Affairs (May/June
3. Frolick, M.N. Supply and demand of IS faculty: The 2005–2006 job
market update. Commun. AIS 16 (2005), 877- 879.
4. Gumpert, D. Doing a number on outsourcing statistics. Business Week
Online (July 13, 2004); www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/
5. Huang, W. W., Wang, Y.L. and Day, J. Global Mobile Commerce:
Strategies, Implementation and Case Studies. Idea Group Publishing, 2007.
6. Patterson, D.A. Offshoring: Finally facts vs. folklore. Commun. ACM
49, 2 (Feb. 2006), 41– 42.
WAYNE WEI HUANG ( email@example.com) is a professor in the
MIS Department of Ohio University’s College of Business, Athens,
JONATHON GREENE is an MIS graduate of Ohio University,
JOHN DAY ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is professor and associate dean of the
College of Business at Ohio University, Athens, OH.
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