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Now, research on Indian BPO thrives in US
March 18, 2004 15:30 IST
Impressed by the Indian economy emerging on the global scene and its ability to attract jobs, students and faculty members in the United States are increasingly involving themselves to understand the phenomenon and want to visit the country to study it at first hand.
"There's a tremendous interest in understanding two things -- the emergence of the Indian economy on the global scene, and its important role in the decoupling of services from where work is done and where it is delivered," Patrick T Harker, dean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania told the New York Times.
India, he said, is "so hot" that almost every faculty member at the Wharton wanted to visit it. "When a phenomenon bursts on the scene, people struggle to understand it. Academics are getting asked questions all the time."
Researchers at schools like the Kellogg School of Management, the University of California at Berkeley and the Columbia Business School are studying India's intellectual base, and the trials that software services companies face as they compete globally, the paper said.
At the Sloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, outsourcing is drawing an overflow of MBA students to a new course that focuses on the variety of economic, technological, managerial and organisational factors in corporate decisions to transfer white-collar jobs to other countries.
"Outsourcing is seen as the next major issue that corporations in the US will be grappling with," Partha Iyengar, vice president for research at Gartner India, a technology research and consulting company, was quoted as saying.
"The faculty are trying to establish themselves as experts, which then typically begets prestige, grants and fame," said Iyengar, who, in addition to conference calls with clients, investment banks and investors, now gets calls from American professors.
Lester Thurow, a former Sloan School dean and one of the class' teachers, was quoted as saying that outsourcing was not only a major political issue, but also one of real relevance to MBA students.
"Professional outsourcing creates a world where losses often occur at the top rather than the bottom of the pyramid," Professor Thurow said. "Naturally, our students need the skills to navigate in such a new environment."
At Wharton, the paper says at least 20 faculty members are researching outsourcing. "Increasing numbers of our students -- not students of Indian origin -- are asking to be placed in India," Dean Harker said while on a visit to India last year.
Each week, the Times says, Sachin Mulay, a strategic marketing manager with India's leading software services firm, Wipro Limited, is overwhelmed with e-mail messages from American universities proposing visits to the company or inviting Wipro executives to speak about the phenomenon of outsourcing.
In the last few months, it noted that the Bangalore-based Wipro alone has had a dozen visits by students and faculty of top US colleges, and 10 more are scheduled in the coming months. A competitor, Infosys Technologies, also in Bangalore, has had eight student groups visit in the same period.
Infosys, the subject of case studies at Wharton, the Harvard Business School and the Stern School of Business at New York University, is seeing an increase in case study requests from academicians. Its chairman and founder, N R Narayana Murthy, has delivered lectures at Stanford, Wharton and Cornell.
At Fordham University in New York, research on outsourcing is thriving. Sumita Raghuram, associate professor of management systems, is designing a study that will examine the role of cultural sensitivity in outsourcing, the paper said.
Students are interested in pursuing careers in dynamic economies, Harker said, adding: "India is undoubtedly one of them."
He said both India and China, with their impressive gross domestic product rates, are attractive to students and academicians alike. "Today, every other country in the world is trying to reposition itself to compete with India and China," he told the Times.
Few have tracked outsourcing more closely than AnnaLee Saxenian, a professor at Berkeley and one of the trend's early researchers. "The speed with which this phenomenon has taken off has amazed me," she said.
In contrast with today, she said, on her first visit to India in 1997, American companies were highly skeptical of the idea of doing business there.
Vivek Paul, vice chairman of Wipro, told the paper, "The rapid acceptance of offshoring of services is viewed by academia as being part of a huge change still in its infancy, with much yet to be discovered."
"Students are eager to learn how this trend will affect employment opportunities, what entrepreneurial openings this may create and what skills are required to succeed in the new world," he said.
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