Understanding transition performance during offshore IT outsourcing

Erik Beulen (Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands and KPMG EquaTerra, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Vinay Tiwari (Shell, The Hague, The Netherlands)
Eric van Heck (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1753-8297

Publication date: 22 November 2011



Within an IT outsourcing relationship, transition represents a critical and complex phase that starts immediately after contract signing. Transition involves handing over outsourced activities from client firm to service provider firm and accompanies a new way of operating. The purpose of this paper is to determine and detail factors influencing the performance of transition phase within global IT outsourcing relationships.


In this paper, the authors present a framework for transition performance that includes four factors: transition planning, knowledge transfer, transition governance and retained organization. This framework is tested and enriched by utilizing a single, in‐depth case study involving over 25 interviews with a global offshore IT outsourcing engagement.


It was found that knowledge transfer and transition governance are more critical factors than transition planning and retained organization for transition performance. This was due mainly to two reasons: the critical challenges faced, within the scope of these factors, had higher potential to disrupt transition; and both these factors and their related issues required a significant joint and coordinated effort from client and service provider firms, thereby, making implementation challenging for transition.


Practitioners have suggested that over two‐thirds of failed outsourcing relationships are due to transition‐related challenges. This paper represents one of the first in‐depth studies that provides insights from a real‐life global outsourcing engagement, which contributes to and complements existing literature on IT outsourcing by providing a greater understanding of transition. Furthermore, it provides practitioners with insights and best practices that can be used to guide transitions in real‐life engagements.



Beulen, E., Tiwari, V. and van Heck, E. (2011), "Understanding transition performance during offshore IT outsourcing", Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 204-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/17538291111185449

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