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Global and regional sourcing of ICT-enabled business services: upgrading of China, Hong Kong and Singapore along the global value chain

Wan, Wai-San (2012) Global and regional sourcing of ICT-enabled business services: upgrading of China, Hong Kong and Singapore along the global value chain. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Offshoring, as part of globalisation, first started decades ago with manufacturing processes disintegrated along the global value chain and dramatically redistributed to low-cost regions. The next global shift of work involving ICT-enabled business services has arisen since the 1990s, especially featuring the success of India’s supplier role. The possibilities for the Global South to move up the value ladder are well demonstrated by the achievements of the newly industrialised economies in East Asia in the first shift and of India in the second. In the services sector, however, potential for upgrading is conditioned by quality-based elements, such as trust, culture and language, which vary both between producing and market areas. Flows are increasingly multi-directional, requiring attention to the neglected issue of demands from fast-growing Southern economies. So how do locations and firms in the Global South attempt to upgrade in the regime of rising services offshoring? The Indian experience especially in serving Anglophone markets in the Global North has been widely documented – but not that of East Asian economies, with their distinct characteristics and strong historic, ethnic and cultural ties with each other. This study examines the upgrading possibilities and constraints of China, Hong Kong and Singapore along the global services chain. For cross-case analysis, it focuses on three specific sets of services, including information technology, finance and accounting, and customer contact services. The concepts of global value chain, competitive advantage and capabilities are applied to reconstruct the phenomenon of services offshoring from both the demand and supply perspectives in the selected locations, and synthesise the dynamics between locational characteristics and firm strategies. A series of distinct upgrading strategies are identified, involving mixes of manufacturisation, knowledge-intensification and deepening relational capabilities to exploit both regional advantages of language/cultural proximity and established global links.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Wai-San Wan
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Gordon, Ian

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