- Outsourcing as a business practice.
- Information technologies and global markets.
- Mathangi Krishnamurthy: “Resources and Rebels: A Study of Identity Management in Indian Call Centers” (2004).
- Outsourcing and employees’ identity in call centers
- Michael Palm: “Outsourcing, Self‐Service and the Telemobility of Work” (2006).
- Outsourcing and the telecom industry, transnational culture, and the labor theory.
Outsourcing is a business practice that is directly associated with achievements in the sphere of information technologies as well as with the progress in developing a global market. In her article “Resources and Rebels: A Study of Identity Management in Indian Call Centers,” Mathangi Krishnamurthy has focused on examining how outsourcing can be related to the formation of employees’ identity in call centers that are located in India. Krishnamurthy’s article was published in 2004, and it contributed to drawing the public’s attention to the question of outsourcing in contexts of the information exchange and economic growth. In 2006, Michael Palm responded to the problem in his article “Outsourcing, Self‐Service and the Telemobility of Work.” In this work, the author has paid attention to analyzing the phenomenon of outsourcing in the context of the telecom industry development, transnational culture, and the labor theory. It is important to discuss the researchers’ arguments and aspects of their articles in detail.
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Key Issues and Arguments in Krishnamurthy’s and Palm’s Works
Krishnamurthy’s (2004) arguments:
- Dependence of the Indian economy on foreign investment.
- Transnational economy and globalization to influence identity management.
- ‘Malleable’ identities of Indian employees.
Palm’s (2006) arguments:
- Foreign employees are less protected.
- Changes in labor markets and effects on economy and society.
- Outsourcing in the context of ‘transnational solidarity’.
- Mobility in relation to the work of call centers and automated banking machines.
In her article, Krishnamurthy (2004) has presented several key arguments. First, the Indian economy significantly depends on the development of call centers in the country because of foreign investment. Second, the principles of the transnational economy and globalization can lead to transforming identities of persons who perform as “producers and consumers in this economy of consumption” (Krishnamurthy, 2004, p. 11). Third, Indian employees should have rather ‘malleable’ identities in order to work in call centers effectively and feel less stress.
Palm (2006) has also identified some issues related to the question of outsourcing in his work. First, outsourcing practices are associated with certain risks and threats to employees and consumers. The problem is in the fact that foreign employees who work in call centers for US companies, for instance, are less protected than employees who work in the United States. Second, changes in the labor market caused by globalization and advancements in the field of information technology can have different controversial effects on economy and society not only in India but also in the United States. In addition, Palm (2006) has focused on developing the concept of ‘transnational solidarity’ and applied it to the situation of outsourcing. Furthermore, the author has discussed the problem of mobility as associated not only with the work of Indians in call centers but also with the appearance of automated banking machines.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Krishnamurthy’s and Palm’s Arguments
Strengths in Krishnamurthy’s (2004) work:
- The well-developed argument on approaches to reinterpreting the transnational workforce.
- The researcher explains how communication can affect the global society.
- The researcher accentuates the role of communication in developing global economic networks.
Weaknesses in Krishnamurthy’s (2004) work:
- The argument lacks specific data on how Indian employees change identities.
Strengths in Palm’s (2006) work:
- The question of outsourcing is discussed from the consumer perspective.
- Outsourcing is viewed from the perspective of protecting employees’ rights.
In her work, Krishnamurthy (2004) has offered a strong argument that the principles of outsourcing in call centers can contribute to reinterpreting processes associated with using the transnational workforce and changing identities while focusing on exchanging information. Although Krishnamurthy’s argument can lack specific data on how Indian employees can change their identities and influence the economy directly, her research allows for understanding how communication in the era of technologies can affect the global society. From this point, the strength of Krishnamurthy’s research is in accentuating the role of using information technologies in developing global economic networks and in influencing cultural identities of people involved in the process. In her research, Krishnamurthy has tried to emphasize how the notion of identity can be associated with transnational cultures and such phenomena as globalization and foreign investment.
In his article, Palm (2006) has discussed the question of outsourcing from the consumer perspective, as well as from the perspective of persons who protect employees’ rights in modern transnational labor markets. The application of these frameworks can be discussed as a strong aspect of the author’s work. Thus, according to Palm (2006), “We must refuse any privilege predicated on the exploitation of the workers serving us, even when we are serving ourselves” (p. 7). In this context, one of the main issues discussed by the author is the role of outsourcing in protecting rights of foreign employees. From this point, the researcher not only accentuates the importance of discussing the issue of outsourcing, but he also demonstrates a challenging perspective with reference to which it is possible to analyze a controversial question.
Strengths and Weaknesses the Researchers’ Analysis, Methods, and Evidence
Analysis of Krishnamurthy’s (2004) methods:
- An appropriate ethnographic study.
- Case studies are efficient to conclude about identity management.
- Appropriate population: customer service associates (18-25 years old).
- The research is limited by the focus on employees living in Pune, India.
Analysis of Palm’s (2006) methods:
- The literature review contributes to discussing the problem in detail.
- Analysis of ethnographies and philosophical theories.
- The article is divided into three main sections to organize the information effectively.
Krishnamurthy (2004) has conducted an ethnographic study based on the use of case studies. Although the author has referred to an ethnographic investigation conducted in Pune, Bangalore, and Gurgaon in 2004 as a basis for her study, the researcher chose to focus on call centers only in Pune. The author has limited her research to investigating experiences of several Indians aged 18-25 years who worked in call centers as customer service associates. This approach can be discussed as one of the author’s weaknesses in selecting evidence and methods of analysis. Still, the reference to an ethnographic study allows for understanding the development of call centers in the context of globalization through the focus on Indian employees’ experiences. This approach is effective to conclude about identity management with reference to individuals and their opinions.
Palm (2006) has used the method of literature review in order to present the results of his research and discuss the problem of outsourcing in detail. Much attention was paid to analyzing ethnographies and philosophical theories related to the issue in order to explain how the introduced phenomena can be viewed from different perspectives. The author has chosen to divide the article into three main sections related to the context of outsourcing in India, to the issue of cultural politics and the use of automated teller machines, and to the question of “self-service telework” (Palm, 2006, p. 5). Such approach to analyzing the evidence provided in previous studies and reports can be discussed as rather effective.
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Contributions to Understanding the Role of Spreading Information on Economy
Krishnamurthy’s (2004) research:
- Accentuates how identities change because of multicultural interactions.
- Demonstrates how globalization influences economic processes and economic liberalization.
Palm’s (2006) research:
- Explains how changes in communication lead to shifts in selecting workforce.
- Identifies risks associated with outsourcing, offshoring, mobility, and telecom labor.
Krishnamurthy’s (2004) article contributes to understanding how information and communication technologies and processes can influence economies and societies while developing the idea that outsourcing can lead to changes in call center employees’ identities because of their participation in multicultural interactions. Thus, the author demonstrates how globalization and the spread of information can influence economic processes in India and worldwide. Krishnamurthy has focused on the idea of the economic liberalization in order to accentuate particular features of communication in transnational contexts. Palm’s (2006) article also contributes to discussing the role of spreading information and using communication technologies in influencing the economy. The author allows readers to understand how changes in communication can lead to shifts in selecting workforce, and how this process influences societies. The researcher also allows readers to recognize risks that are associated with such notions as outsourcing, offshoring, mobility, and telecom labor.
- Krishnamurthy’s (2004) and Palm’s (2006) articles provide many insights regarding tendencies caused by globalization.
- The readings present conclusions on the role of changes in the information exchange.
- The readings stimulate critical and analytical thinking.
- The articles are thought-provoking sources.
The discussed readings were written by Krishnamurthy (2004) and Palm (2006) on the topic of outsourcing. It is possible to state that these readings can provide the audience with many insights regarding tendencies that were caused or provoked by globalization and changes in the information exchange. From this point, the authors’ works are important to stimulate the audience’s critical and analytical thinking in order to discuss the problem in detail. Thus, the analyzed articles can be viewed as thought-provoking sources that are effective to involve readers in the discussion of the main points presented in the papers. As a result, Krishnamurthy’s (2004) and Palm’s (2006) works can be used to initiate the further analysis of the problem of outsourcing in the modern context with the focus on its role in economy and society.
Krishnamurthy, M. (2004). Resources and rebels: A study of identity management in Indian call centers. Anthropology of Work Review, 25(3‐4), 9-18.
Palm, M. (2006). Outsourcing, self‐service and the telemobility of work. Anthropology of Work Review, 27(2), 1-9.