Knowledge Transfer in Software Maintenance Outsourcing: The Key Roles of Software Knowledge and Guided Learning Tasks

Krancher, Oliver; Dibbern, Jens (2020). Knowledge Transfer in Software Maintenance Outsourcing: The Key Roles of Software Knowledge and Guided Learning Tasks. In: Hirschheim, Rudy; Heinzl, Armin; Dibbern, Jens (eds.) Information Systems Outsourcing. The Era of Digital Transformation. Progress in IS (pp. 147-181). Springer, Cham 10.1007/978-3-030-45819-5_7

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Software maintenance eats up the lion’s share of corporate software expenses, and many organizations attempt to reduce these costs through outsourcing and offshoring. A key challenge in these initiatives is to transfer knowledge to the new service delivery unit (a vendor or a captive center). Even though knowledge transfer plays a key role across theoretical perspectives in sourcing research (such as transaction cost economics, knowledge-based perspectives, and social perspectives), we know surprisingly little about what knowledge is most critical and through what mechanisms this knowledge is transferred in software maintenance outsourcing and offshoring. Insights from a multiple-case study of five knowledge transfers at a Swiss bank suggest that the most critical knowledge is software knowledge and that software knowledge is transferred through guided learning tasks. Software knowledge (i.e., knowledge about the application software, including its structure, functionality and behavior) is most critical because it allows engineers to cope with the cognitive burden imposed by enormous amounts of code, data, and documents. While engineers in settings of low knowledge specificity may possess sufficient software knowledge from the beginning, engineers in settings of high knowledge specificity acquire this knowledge through a series of guided learning tasks, i.e., by working on real or realistic maintenance tasks while receiving direction and task-specific information from experts. Our study adds to the emerging literature on transitions and offers important implications for the discourses on transaction cost economics and on knowledge-based perspectives in sourcing research.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)

Division/Institute:

03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Information Systems > Information Engineering
03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Information Systems

UniBE Contributor:

Krancher, Oliver and Dibbern, Jens

Subjects:

000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics

ISSN:

2196-8713

ISBN:

978-3-030-45819-5

Series:

Progress in IS

Publisher:

Springer, Cham

Language:

English

Submitter:

Luca Giacomelli

Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2020 10:58

Last Modified:

29 Sep 2020 10:58

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/978-3-030-45819-5_7

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/146732

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