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Strategic outsourcing in SMEs

Ingi Runar Edvardsson (School of Business, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland)
Susanne Durst (School of Business, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden)
Gudmundur Kristjan Oskarsson (School of Business and Science, University of Akureyri, Akureyri, Iceland)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 29 November 2019

Issue publication date: 4 February 2020




So far, there are very few empirical research studies available on the outsourcing pattern among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The purpose of this paper is to examine strategic outsourcing among Icelandic SME service firms, from 2009 to 2018.


The data presented in this paper cover responses from 802 small service firms, which were collected through telephone and online questionnaires. In order to have sufficient data on strategic outsourcing and to ensure a decent analysis, three surveys were combined.


The main finding of the present paper is that SMEs that have a developed strategy on outsourcing seem to perform better than those who do not have. The former are more likely to have achieved cost reduction, especially in housing and finance, and they use outsourcing to increase core businesses. They select vendor firms more on the bases of cost and services, rather than personal contacts. Also, these firms have improved service quality, by focusing on their core competences.


To the authors‘ knowledge, the present study is one of the few empirical studies that have examined outsourcing in SMEs from a strategic perspective. The findings are valuable for managerial practice and could be a base for outsourcing strategies in SMEs.



Edvardsson, I.R., Durst, S. and Oskarsson, G.K. (2020), "Strategic outsourcing in SMEs", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 73-84.



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