Organizational capabilities for managing the offshoring of product development

Sammanfattning: Large multinationals must continually innovate to produce products and services that meet the needs of a global market. In order to distribute work across multiple sites, they use techniques such as offshoring and outsourcing. This requires them to address organizational and cultural aspects to coordinate distributed product development activities.  While these techniques have received great interest in business as well as research in recent years, as the latest trend is to send increasingly complex functions such as research, development and engineering (RD&E) overseas. When offshoring involves high value functions, the transitions occur rapidly, and the associated risks and costs of failing increase. In addition to the hidden costs of offshoring and outsourcing, there is a risk of losing core competences over time or spillovers of critical knowledge to competitors in the new market. Despite the criticality of succeeding with their offshoring efforts, little is known considering of how companies handle the process of distributing work globally, and the capabilities they develop to manage offshoring efficiently. The objective of this thesis is to explore the routines and capabilities that organizations´ need to develop to make offshoring an integral part of the management global RD&E.  Two in-depth case studies are used to develop firm specific theories which can inform both the theory and practice of managing offshoring. Case A provides insight into a client-supplier relationship between the Swedish site of a multinational and its Indian service provider. The current challenges identified through the case study are paired with a retrospective analysis of the evolution of the decade-long relationship, to show how the cross-cultural interface has influenced the evolution of the relationship. With the assistance of a literature review, the findings are explained through the theoretical lenses of national culture, organizational culture and contextual factors. Case B provides insight into offshoring management in terms of a product management transfer from a Swedish site to a research center in China of the same multinational. Besides the insights into the transfer of responsibility for a complex product overseas, the case provides the base of an organizational capabilities framework for managing all stages in the offshoring process (decision, transfer, operations and governance stage). Four key capabilities were found to support the management of offshoring, namely; technological skills, process & tools, relationship management and knowledge management.