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Educational Attainment: As a driving factor of the business process outsourcing (BPO) revolution

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Title: Educational Attainment: As a driving factor of the business process outsourcing (BPO) revolution

Scholars who study how complex systems change over time are familiar with two types of change: evolutionary and emergent.

Evolutionary changes are those that a system is likely to produce based on its current design and goals.

For instance, living systems develop sensory equipment to help them react to what is going on their environment.

Because the goal of such systems is to live and procreate, it would be reasonable for us to predict that they would evolve sensory apparatus over time. It is not surprising that creatures that live in a lighted world develop eyes and that creatures that live in darkened worlds do not.

Occasionally, however, complex systems develop structures that are not predictable from their goals and current state.

These phenomena are referred to as emergent. They are system features or capabilities that would not have been predicted in advance based on the understood design and goals of the system.

They are usually the result of a series of parallel evolutionary changes that, when taken together, produce surprising or unexpected results.

Consciousness in humans is often highlighted as an emergent phenomenon of increasingly complex and integrated brain systems, rather than as something that is natural result of our evolutionary past.

We contend that BPO is revolutionary because it is such an emergent phenomenon. It is emergent because, as far as we can tell, no one set out to design the potential for organizations to use BPO. 

BPO is emerging from a set of driving factors that have unintentionally converged in this particular time to enable the shifting of work to its lowest-cost/highest-quality provider regardless of the provider’s physical location.

BPO is a business innovation that leverages these driving factors and applies them to practical business problems. The main drivers at the heart of the BPO revolution are illustrated in. Each of these drivers is discussed in detail in the following sections.

Educational Attainment
The United States still dominates the world in the quality of its higher education, but the rest of the world is catching up quickly.

As more and more Ph.D.-qualified faculty return to their home countries with their degrees from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and other prestigious schools, they are helping to transform higher education worldwide.

At the K-12 level, it has long been noted that the United States lags behind other countries, especially in technical areas such as math and science as measured by standardized text scores.

The gap between the United States and many foreign nations has increased over time in technical education, which has now also translated into fewer U.S. students seeking college degrees in technical fields.

Ironically, the United States is not only relocating its coveted technical jobs to these foreign locations, but it is also preparing many of the workers who fill those jobs.

The following list provides some sobering statistics on technical education worldwide that indicates why so many U.S. firms are looking abroad for the talent they need to compete in today’s marketplace:

? In 2001, 46 percent of Chinese students graduated with engineering degrees. In the United States, that number was 5 percent.

? Europe graduates three times as many engineering students as the United States and Asia five times as many.

? In 2003, less than 2 percent of U.S. high school graduates went on to pursue an engineering degree.

? In 2001, almost 60 percent of those receiving Ph.D.s in electrical engineering in the United States were foreign-born.

? Among the more than 1.1 million seniors in the class of 2002 who took the ACT college entrance exam, fewer than 6 percent planned to study engineering, down from 9 percent in 1992.

? Less than 15 percent of U.S. students have the math and science prerequisites to participate in the new global high-tech economy.

? In the United States, more students are getting degrees in parks and recreation management than in electrical engineering.

It now makes sense for U.S. firms to rely on foreign providers of highly skilled labor. The logic is simple: The quality of talent is high and the cost is low.

Educational attainment around the world will drive BPO innovators to seek new ways to tap that talent for business purposes. There is no way to put that genie back into the bottle.

It would be foolhardy to the point of malfeasance for managers not to seek and use the best available talent that fits the organization’s budget – wherever that talent may reside.


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