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Direct and indirect value creation in offshored knowledge-intensive services

Kristin Brandl (Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, UK)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 6 March 2017




Despite increasing interest in offshoring of knowledge-intensive services, it is still undetermined as to whether the sourcing of services truly creates the anticipated value for clients. Moreover, even less is known about whether value is created for service providers in the process beyond the general service trade. This lack of knowledge is due to the challenges of capturing value creation, the unique production process of the services, and the impact of offshoring on both value creation and the production process. The purpose of this paper is to study offshored service production processes of knowledge-intensive services in order to identify direct and indirect value creation for clients as well as service providers in the process.


The paper applies a multiple case study method and studies one conglomerate with three offshored service production processes. The chosen method allows for the investigation of the service production process and indirect/direct value creation within the process.


The study finds that there is direct value creation for the client and the service provider towards the end of the production processes as expected. However, more importantly, it finds additional indirect value creation in various production stages. The indirect value is reflected in enhanced understanding of problems and own operations for the client and increased knowledge about clients and problem-solving approaches for the service provider.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to offshoring literature by providing a comprehensive understanding of value creation in service offshoring for clients as well as service providers. It also contributes to the service management literature as a study of direct and indirect value creation in services, particularly within the production process of the services.

Practical implications

The study allows practitioners to gain insights on the value creation logic of offshored services and the value created beyond that logic. More specifically, it allows client firms to gain details of various values and benefits of service offshoring and service provider firms to gain a focused perspective on value creation in their own service production that can lead to competitive advantages.


The paper is novel and original through its approach to study offshoring from a value creation logic perspective, including not only the client but also the service provider perspective. It also applies a service production process perspective that is novel in offshoring literature.



The author would like to thank Special Issue Editors Wendy Tate and Lydia Bals as well as three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable feedback and guidance in the review process. The author also thanks the Otto Mønsteds Fond and the Danish Ministry for Research, Innovation and Higher Education for financial support.


Brandl, K. (2017), "Direct and indirect value creation in offshored knowledge-intensive services", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 47 No. 2/3, pp. 137-155.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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