“Offshoring and outsourcing today are like sex in the Victorian era: repressed or criticized in public discussion, much practiced in private behavior.”
That is a very interesting analogy by Ben W. Heineman, Jr. in his article In Defense of Responsible Offshoring and Outsourcing in the Harvard Business Review.
Is sex a valid analogy? DEFINITELY.
Think about how widely criticized outsourcing and offshoring is, then think about the massive trend of the transfer of portions of work and sometimes almost major parts of businesses from highly industrialized countries in the West to developed and developing countries in the East.
Now let’s take a look at the parallelisms. Take love out of the equation, sex, through time, has been linked to power and money. When I say money, I’m not just referring to street-level prostitution but all situations wherein sex has been used to leverage power and money, to further one’s goal/s in life; in the same manner that outsourcing and offshoring is a great leverage to drive business goals. The capitalist market is a cutthroat industry where you either sink or swim. In a world where no one is created equal — yes, not all companies are equal, the challenges for businesses is to ride the change through recession and expansion, not barely surviving but competitively playing with peers.
According to Wikipedia in the Victorian era, “sex was something that was not discussed openly and honestly, [and] public discussion of sexual encounters and matters were met with ignorance, embarrassment and fear. It seemed that aside from being a moral issue at that time, sex was also a social, political and economic issue.
Now let’s take a look at the economics of outsourcing. The main reason for outsourcing and offshoring is cost efficiency and for this, they are widely criticized. People usually think that the cost of capital is directly correlated to the quality of product and/or services, i.e. the lower the capital, the lower the quality of product and/or services. In a capitalist world, everyone wants to flaunt the money they earn but almost no one wants to admit the money they lose. Some conservative businesses still view outsourcing and offshoring as accepting defeat or settling. But the success stories of outsourcing and offshoring for big and small companies alike, obviously defeat that view.
Thankfully, sex in the Victorian era has evolved and the sexual revolution paved the way to a more honest, respectful and less pretentious view of sexuality. In the same way that, through time, capitalists can also hope for the same revolution. Sex can make or break a king and a regular citizen alike. It seems that sex may be one of the great equalizers for humanity; in the same manner that outsourcing and offshoring can be the great equalizer for small and big companies alike.