Exploring Strategic Innovation in a Business Services Outsourcing Context: Client and Provider Perspectives

  • Marfri Gambal

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Business services outsourcing engagements, typically comprising the transfer of information
technology and other supporting business functions, are traditionally leveraged for cost
savings. Recently, there has been a shift in demands towards strategic innovations that may
substantially improve a client’s competitive position.

Two research questions are addressed: (1) How has existing research conceptualised the
strategic innovation through outsourcing process and how have reference theories been
applied?, and (2) how can high degrees of organisational readiness be created for strategic
innovation initiatives in outsourcing from a (a) client perspective and (b) provider perspective?

A conceptual study in form of a theoretical literature review is developed to respond to the first
research question. The fragmented research landscape is consolidated by capturing insights
from 95 papers, published between 1998 and 2020. Thematic analysis findings are integrated
in a four-phase framework. Based on the review, the gap tied to the second research question
is carved out. Specifically, virtually no research has yet explored the formation of organisational
readiness for strategic innovation initiatives in an outsourcing context.

Responding to the second research question requires the exploration of notable factors in the
outsourcing project, organisational and market environment, that influence the readiness of
organisational members to support the implementation of strategic innovation initiatives. Two
qualitative case studies are conducted, one involving a care hospital, the other involving a
service provider. Organisational change readiness theory is used as theoretical lens. A
framework is developed that accommodates identified readiness-influencing factors. Findings
further indicate that readiness levels evolve and may decline during an initiative’s
implementation due to unforeseen disturbances. Corrective measures are then required.

This thesis offers two major contributions to the Information Systems sourcing research
stream, namely a comprehensive theoretical review of existing innovation through outsourcing
literature, and the identification of readiness-influencing factors from a client and provider
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndreas Schroeder (Supervisor), Pawan Budhwar (Supervisor), Aleksandre Asatiani (Supervisor) & Julia Kotlarsky (Supervisor)


  • business services outsourcing
  • organisational readiness
  • strategic innovation
  • theoretical review

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