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Inequality in project organizing and the quiet rebellion against it: - A postcolonial reading of the division of tasks in transnational IT projects
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Industrial Engineering & Management.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4398-7100
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

It has previously been noted that most MNC (Multi-national companies) have a global hierarchy in its organization where sophisticated organizational tasks are performed in the developed countries leaving simple manual labour to the units in developing countries (Frenkel, 2008; Arora, et al., 2001). When looking at the project level, this way of organizing is also frequently mentioned in the literature (Nicholson & Sahay, 2001; Metiu, 2006; Frenkel, 2008; Marrewijk, 2010; Mahadevan, 2011; Jensen & Nardi, 2014) but it is not the primary object of their studies. Thus, this organizing is seemingly taken for granted as a normal part of the global software offshoring phenomenon (Blomqvist, et al., 2015). Despite this, post-colonial theory has according to Ravishankar et al. (2013) been largely overlooked in research regarding information technology offshoring. A few scholars have however studied the context of offshoring in cross-national projects using this lens, one example is Upadhya (2008) who studied the construction of “the Indian software engineer” as new global technical worker and how this construction is used as a mechanism of control within global projects. Another example is Mayasandra et al. (2006) whom have studied the attempt of a vendor organisation to keep the knowledge gained during their projects in their own organisation despite the deliveries being acquired by a western client organisation. These kinds of studies, where projects are analysed through a post-colonial lens, are however rare and to the best of my knowledge no study has focused on the internal project organising.

Therefore, this study zooms in on IT projects where one team is located in Sweden and the other in India. The aim is to problematize the division of tasks between offshore and onshore team and highlight the Swedish project manager’s and project member’s work against the neocolonial company structures. The approach is to use an inadequacy strategy where I include post-colonial theory as a new way of looking at the cross-national project organising. Deductively the study draw on temporal organisation theory of cross-cultural teams as well as critical studies of offshoring. Empirically a qualitative interview study of a large Multinational IT consultancy company is used.

The study finds that the unequal structures apparent in the colonial India can still be found in the post-colonial world and in the context of transnational IT projects. The structures are upheld by the Multinational organisation and the people within it. There is however a perceived clash between this way of organising and the onshore people engaged in it, which some of them work against due to a wish to not only achieve highest possible team efficiency but also in order to nourish their intrinsic desire to help people excel and reach their full potential regardless of nationality. The leadership ideal of coaching and developing the team members are for some leaders not kept in a leach reaching no further than the national border but include every individual that they work close with. When the organisational boundaries keep them from treating their colleagues as they think they deserve in terms of for instance giving them more responsibility or access to the same technology as their onshore colleagues, this creates a frustration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Inequality, project
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified Business Administration
Research subject
Engineering Science with specialization in industrial engineering and management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-334968OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-334968DiVA: diva2:1161342
Conference
EGOS-European Group for Organizational Studies
Note

Arora, A., Gambardella, A. & Torrisi, S., 2001. In the footsteps of the Silicon Valley? Indian and Irish software in the international division of labour. SIEPR Discussion Paper No. 00-41 , June.

Blomqvist, M., Peterson, H. & Dhar-Bhattacharjee, S., 2015. "You feel the threat from Asia". Onshore Experiences of IT Offshoring To India. Nordic journal of working life studies “, 5(4).

Frenkel, M., 2008. The Multinational Corporation as a Third Space: Rethinking International Management Discourse on Knowledge Transfer through Homi Bhabha. The Academy of Management Review,, Oct, 33(4), pp. 924-942.

Jensen, R. & Nardi, B., 2014. The rhetoric of culture as an act of closure in a cross-national software development department. Tel Aviv, s.n.

Mahadevan, J., 2011. Power/Knowledge in Postcolonial Settings/ The Case of IT Bangalore. Interculture Journal, , 10(13), p. 61 – 81.

Marrewijk, A., 2010. Situational Construction of Dutch-Indian Cultural Differences in Global IT Projects,. Scandinavian Journal of Management, , 26(4), pp. 368 - 380.

Metiu, A., 2006. Owning the Code: Status Closure in Distributed Groups. Organization Science, 17(4), pp. 418 - 435

Nicholson, B. & Sahay, S., 2001. Some political and cultural issues in the globalisation of software development: case experience from Britain and India. Information and Organization , Volume 11, pp. 25-43.

Ravishankar, M. N., Pan, S. L. & Myers, M. D., 2013. Information technology offshoring in India: a postcolonial perspective. European Journal of Information Systems, Volume 22, p. 387–402.

Upadhya, C., 2008. Management of Culture and Managing through Culture in the Indian Software Outsourcing Industry. In: An outpost of global economy, Work and workers in India’s Information Technology Industry,. s.l.:Routledge,, pp. 101-135.

Available from: 2017-11-29 Created: 2017-11-29 Last updated: 2017-12-29

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