Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation

ICT-enabled outsourcing and offshoring


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Workshop in Egypt (14 November 2009): Global ICT services sourcing post crisis - trends and developments




The OECD's Working Party on the Information Economy (WPIE) has undertaken analysis of various aspects of restructuring global value chains underpinned by the use of ICT. A major part of this work focuses on ICT-enabled international sourcing of services in recognition of the potential to transform OECD economies.


The WPIE's work includes reports and workshops analysing ICT-enabled trade in services, outsourcing and offshoring of ICT-enabled services, and the potential impacts on employment.


Rapid technological developments in ICTs are having a profound impact on the way economic activity is organised in general, and in particular on how the ICT sector and ICT-related activities are organised.


Many ICT-enabled services are increasingly tradable as a result of technological advances in ICTs, combined with ongoing liberalisation of trade and investment in services, and services activities are globalising rapidly. These increasingly globalised service activities not only contribute to the development of the ICT sector but also more broadly to other business and service activities. India in particular has received much attention in the context of the ICT-enabled outsourcing and offshoring of services, especially since there appears to be a movement up the value chain. Other countries are also emerging as new players.


Various editions of the OECD Information Technology Outlook describe ICT outsourcing and offshoring issues. See


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  • Is China the new centre for offshoring of IT and ICT-enabled services? This paper analyses current developments in IT and ICT-enabled services offshoring to China and discusses the potential for further growth, using indicators of international trade, human resources and ICT infrastructure. R&D activities are a specific example of China’s potential to supply more highly skilled ICT-enabled services and move up the value chain.


  • Potential Impacts of International Sourcing on Different Occupations. This paper uses trade and employment data to examine the relationship between the share of employment potentially affected by offshoring and economic and structural factors, including trade in business services and foreign direct investment, using simple descriptive regressions for a panel of OECD economies between 1996 and 2003.


  • The Share of Employment Potentially Affected by Offshoring: An Empirical Investigation. This report examines the relationship between the share of employment potentially affected by ICT-enabled offshoring of services and other economic and structural indicators, using some simple descriptive regressions on a panel of OECD economies between 1996 and 2003. This paper builds on previous work which found that the share of employment potentially affected by ICT-enabled offshoring of services was close to 20%. 


  • Potential Offshoring of ICT-intensive Occupations. Services are increasingly tradable, mainly as a result of rapid technological advances, in particular in information and communication technologies (ICTs), and continuing liberalisation of international trade and investment in services. This has led to the relatively new phenomenon of global services sourcing or ICT-enabled offshoring of services. This report analyses evidence from both trade and employment data.

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Related work


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