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Through the lens of social capital: a research agenda for studying IT outsourcing

Beena George (Cameron School of Business, University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas, USA)
Rudy Hirschheim (E. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Alexander von Stetten (Department for Information Systems and Services, Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg, Bamberg, Germany)

Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1753-8297

Article publication date: 10 June 2014




This paper proposes a new research agenda for information technology (IT) outsourcing,motivated by the belief that the social capital concept enables IT outsourcing researchers to capture more of the nuances of the client–vendor relationship in IT outsourcing arrangements.


The paper builds a comprehensive framework of social capital based on Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) to examine the IT outsourcing life cycle. Past research on IT outsourcing is examined applying the parameters of the framework to identify issues that have been addressed in research on IT outsourcing and to uncover the gaps in past research.


The social capital framework is applied to IT outsourcing which suggests new avenues for future outsourcing research.

Research limitations/implications

While past research has identified success factors for IT outsourcing, a significant number of outsourcing arrangement still fail to meet expectations. The research agenda presented in this paper encourages an examination of IT outsourcing from a different perspective to determine how to successfully manage IT outsourcing.


The paper provides a new framework that is useful for identifying the relationships among past research in IT outsourcing as well as for identifying potential topics for future research.



The authors acknowledge the assistance of Madhu Das and Bandula Jayatilaka who helped on earlier versions of this paper.


George, B., Hirschheim, R. and von Stetten, A. (2014), "Through the lens of social capital: a research agenda for studying IT outsourcing", Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 107-134.



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