How green is my outsourcer? Measuring sustainability in global IT outsourcing

Ron Babin (Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK)
Brian Nicholson (Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK)

Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1753-8297

Publication date: 22 February 2011



The purpose of this paper is to examine the intersection of sustainability and global IT outsourcing (GITO). GITO is well established as a business practice towards reducing costs and improving performance. Sustainability issues related to carbon footprint and greenhouse gases are increasingly important for all organizations. Responsible and economic energy management is a critical business capability and environmental responsibility in global outsourcing.


Drawing on empirical work undertaken in the UK and North America together with content analysis of public data from leading GITO providers, this paper presents a model for measuring sustainability in outsourcing.


The research findings demonstrate a growing environmental maturity in GITO firms, as measured against external recognized standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative, the Carbon Disclosure Project, the UN Global Compact and the ISO environmental and social responsibility standards.

Practical implications

In the context of social, economic and political discussions regarding sustainability, this paper contributes to our practical and theoretical understanding of GITO providers and the impact of environmental issues in outsourcing.

Social implications

Consumers, governments and society at large demonstrate increasing expectations for sustainability from all organizations. Outsourcers can provide improved sustainability capability to their buyers in this important area.


Environmental and social responsibility in global outsourcing has received little attention in academic research. This paper provides a starting point for further investigation of the role of sustainability in outsourcing.



Babin, R. and Nicholson, B. (2011), "How green is my outsourcer? Measuring sustainability in global IT outsourcing", Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 47-66.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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