Organizational form, incentives and the management of information technology: Opening the black box of outsourcing

Eric A. Walden, James J. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


In this work, we attempt to show how operations researchers can effectively manage the production costs of computing services. The thesis of this paper is that an outsourcing firm, by virtue of the fact that it manages the IT function for multiple firms, is privileged to information not available to the focal firm. We derive the conditions under which this privileged information allows the partner firm to construct superior incentives for its employees, resulting in superior IT management. Further, we detail the circumstances under which outsourcing will not provide additional benefit, and what sorts of partners are likely to provide the greatest benefit. The two main findings are that for low levels of uncertainty, both in-house and relational management are equally acceptable. However, as uncertainty increases, the value of relational management increases. Conclusions are drawn and extensions are proposed, related to economies of scale and transactions costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3575-3591
Number of pages17
JournalComputers and Operations Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007



  • Governance
  • Outsourcing

Cite this