Project Details

A Study of Outsourcing Human Resource Functions in Asia: Causes, Consequences and Implications for Governance

Faced with fiscal constraints, governments worldwide are outsourcing various human resource (HR) functions previously provided by in-house staff. Outsourcing is associated with a number of potential benefits in terms of service delivery, enhancement of the strategic position of HR (Cooke et al., 2005), organizational performance, fostering competition in the public sector, concentration on the core HR areas, etc. However, the practice of turning over part or all of an organization's functions to external service providers has been linked to potential undesirable outcomes, ranging from increasing unemployment, short-term profiteering or sub-par performance by service providers, to deteriorating service capabilities and standards. As Koch (2004) argues, many other elements also count, including the political climate, strength of unions, employment situation, and the investments required and available. Yet, the empirical literature on the associated negative consequences such as managing conflicts is mainly western-centric, which hardly apply to the Southeast Asian context owing to the region’s unique socio-political and economic climate. This study aims at plugging the gap by examining the scope and scale of adopting HRM outsourcing in three newly industrialized, emerging economies: Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. In undertaking the analysis, I adopt a framework that utilizes the resource-based view (RBV) on organization capability and competitive advantage, and personal interviews and surveys will be conducted with the bureaucrats and contractors in the three jurisdictions, which will offer a first-hand comparative perspective into their outsourcing experiences. The planned study is expected to identify the problems and challenges faced by stakeholders engaged in public sector HR outsourcing in Southeast Asia and to compare and analyze those with established western theories and models. This study aims to develop a conceptual model that particularly reflects the competitive Asian context and to contribute the development of theory in this increasingly important field.

Commencement Date : 2014/9
Completion Date : 2016/5
Chief Investigator(s) : Dr VYAS, Lina [APS]

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