The Unbundling of Corporate Functions: The Evolution of Shared Services and Outsourcing in Human Resource Management
43 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2009
Date Written: May 1, 2009
This paper analyses the demand side of business services outsourcing. Using insights from a number of bodies of literature, the paper interprets business services outsourcing as corporate restructuring involving the administrative functions of the firm. Propositions are developed around the following. First, the existing corporate structure and the nature of supplier markets affect the paths chosen to create shared business services and to move to outsourcing. Second, the trajectory of the move to shared services and outsourcing affects the distribution of capabilities between users and suppliers. The study examines these propositions through a comparison of human resource outsourcing in two leading consumer products companies, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever. We find that a relatively high degree of centralization at P&G led it to create an internal shared services center before outsourcing, whilst a more decentralized Unilever utilized outsourcing as an occasion for globally standardizing its systems and processes. The paper draws implications of these different paths for core capabilities.
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