Value of Information Technology Outsourcing: An Empirical Analysis of Korean Industries

IT 아웃소싱의 가치에 관한 연구: 한국 산업에 대한 실증분석

  • Han, Kun-Soo (Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University) ;
  • Lee, Kang-Bae (Department of MIS, College of Business Administration, Dong-A University)
  • Published : 2010.09.30


Information technology (IT) outsourcing, the use of a third-party vendor to provide IT services, started in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Korea, and has increased rapidly since 2000. Recently, firms have increased their efforts to capture greater value from IT outsourcing. To date, there have been a large number of studies on IT outsourcing. Most prior studies on IT outsourcing have focused on outsourcing practices and decisions, and little attention has been paid to objectively measuring the value of IT outsourcing. In addition, studies that examined the performance of IT outsourcing have mainly relied on anecdotal evidence or practitioners' perceptions. Our study examines the contribution of IT outsourcing to economic growth in Korean industries over the 1990 to 2007 period, using a production function framework and a panel data set for 54 industries constructed from input-output tables, fixed-capital formation tables, and employment tables. Based on the framework and estimation procedures that Han, Kauffman and Nault (2010) used to examine the economic impact of IT outsourcing in U.S. industries, we evaluate the impact of IT outsourcing on output and productivity in Korean industries. Because IT outsourcing started to grow at a significantly more rapid pace in 2000, we compare the impact of IT outsourcing in pre- and post-2000 periods. Our industry-level panel data cover a large proportion of Korean economy-54 out of 58 Korean industries. This allows us greater opportunity to assess the impacts of IT outsourcing on objective performance measures, such as output and productivity. Using IT outsourcing and IT capital as our primary independent variables, we employ an extended Cobb-Douglas production function in which both variables are treated as factor inputs. We also derive and estimate a labor productivity equation to assess the impact of our IT variables on labor productivity. We use data from seven years (1990, 1993, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007) for which both input-output tables and fixed-capital formation tables are available. Combining the input-output tables and fixed-capital formation tables resulted in 54 industries. IT outsourcing is measured as the value of computer-related services purchased by each industry in a given year. All the variables have been converted to 2000 Korean Won using GDP deflators. To calculate labor hours, we use the average work hours for each sector provided by the OECD. To effectively control for heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation present in our dataset, we use the feasible generalized least squares (FGLS) procedures. Because the AR1 process may be industry-specific (i.e., panel-specific), we consider both common AR1 and panel-specific AR1 (PSAR1) processes in our estimations. We also include year dummies to control for year-specific effects common across industries, and sector dummies (as defined in the GDP deflator) to control for time-invariant sector-specific effects. Based on the full sample of 378 observations, we find that a 1% increase in IT outsourcing is associated with a 0.012~0.014% increase in gross output and a 1% increase in IT capital is associated with a 0.024~0.027% increase in gross output. To compare the contribution of IT outsourcing relative to that of IT capital, we examined gross marginal product (GMP). The average GMP of IT outsourcing was 6.423, which is substantially greater than that of IT capital at 2.093. This indicates that on average if an industry invests KRW 1 millon, it can increase its output by KRW 6.4 million. In terms of the contribution to labor productivity, we find that a 1% increase in IT outsourcing is associated with a 0.009~0.01% increase in labor productivity while a 1% increase in IT capital is associated with a 0.024~0.025% increase in labor productivity. Overall, our results indicate that IT outsourcing has made positive and economically meaningful contributions to output and productivity in Korean industries over the 1990 to 2007 period. The average GMP of IT outsourcing we report about Korean industries is 1.44 times greater than that in U.S. industries reported in Han et al. (2010). Further, we find that the contribution of IT outsourcing has been significantly greater in the 2000~2007 period during which the growth of IT outsourcing accelerated. Our study provides implication for policymakers and managers. First, our results suggest that Korean industries can capture further benefits by increasing investments in IT outsourcing. Second, our analyses and results provide a basis for managers to assess the impact of investments in IT outsourcing and IT capital in an objective and quantitative manner. Building on our study, future research should examine the impact of IT outsourcing at a more detailed industry level and the firm level.


Supported by : Dong-A University


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