Title

Firm as a Coordination System: Evidence from Offshore Software Services

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

7-2014

Abstract

To examine what, if any, are the differences in how activities are coordinated within versus between firms, we conducted interviews with 32 project managers regarding 60 projects in the offshore software services industry. Uniquely, our projects were sampled along two dimensions: (1) colocation versus spatial distribution and (2) delivery by groups of individuals from a single firm versus from multiple firms. Our evidence suggests that in colocated projects, the same broad categories of coordination mechanisms are used both within and between firms. However, there is a qualitative difference in how geographically (i.e., spatially) distributed projects are coordinated within versus between firms. Distributed projects conducted within firms rely extensively on tacit coordination mechanisms; such mechanisms are not readily available in between-firm projects that are spatially distributed. This difference may arise because of the lack of shared history and lack of enforcement through common authority in the between-firm context.

Keywords

coordination, common ground, firm boundaries, knowledge-based view (KBV) of the firm, distributed work, offshoring, offshore outsourcing, tacit coordination mechanisms

Discipline

Business | Strategic Management Policy

Research Areas

Strategy and Organisation

Publication

Organization Science

Volume

25

Issue

4

First Page

1253

Last Page

1271

ISSN

1047-7039

Identifier

10.1287/orsc.2013.0886

Publisher

INFORMS

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2013.0886