IT Outsourcing and Redefinition of the Subsidiary Role: a Comparative Study Between the Brazilian and the Indian Subsidiaries of an American Multinational

Marco Aurélio da Silva, Roberto Gonzalez Duarte, José Márcio de Castro, Aristides Rocha Araújo


Global outsourcing, also known as offshoring, has become a major phenomenon in the IT industry.
Responsibilities have been transferred to IT suppliers worldwide. A key element of this strategic change
occurred in the IT sector is the growing importance of emerging economies, such as Brazil and India, as
offshoring suppliers. A stream of the literature on international business has analysed which factors may
affect the evolution of a subsidiary within a multinational. This paper aims to analyse how exporting
outsourcing IT services can redefine the role of a subsidiary within a corporation and, consequently change
its strategic relevance. Empirical research compared the offshoring activities of two subsidiaries –Brazilian
and Indian – of an American IT multinational. In particular, the empirical research focussed on how
subsidiary choice, head office assignment and environment determinism factors interact to each other in
order to determine the evolution of each subsidiary. The results have demonstrated that the Indian
subsidiary trajectory was essentially determined by the development of its resources, innovation,
governmental support and entrepreneurship. The Brazilian subsidiary trajectory in turn was mostly
influenced by head office assignment and subsidiary performance. A comparative analysis between the two cases has demonstrated how these aspects have altogether determined why these subsidiaries have evolved
differently from each other. Most importantly, this paper argues that management capacity and subsidiary
leadership are critical elements to understand the evolution of a multinational subsidiary trajectory.

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