The practice of using remote human resources to augment local work forces is by no means a recent phenomenon. However, this practice in the past has generally utilized low-skilled workers in remote locations performing routine and labor intensive duties (Fields, 2007). It is in the more recent times, that skilled workers have been employed in remote locations to help the local workforces. In particular, in the software technology field, remote locations such as India have been increasingly used over the past two decades to increase the capacity of the local intellectual workforce at a lower price. Fields argues that the offshore workforces in locations such as India are as educated and qualified as those found locally in the U.S. locations. Yet, Shi (2007) argues that this talent is underutilized and their full potential is often not realized. There have been several studies that have looked at logistical challenges, including communication gaps, culture, and project management, in order to explore means of extracting more from offshore and remote resources. However, the role of leadership in engaging offshore employees who are logistically separated from their local counterparts has received little to no attention. Contemporary studies of leadership by the likes of Kotter, Peters, and Mintzberg tell us that leadership has a great influence in the effectiveness of an organization. Hence, it is logical to expect that the role of leadership is just as important for managing offshore teams as it is for local teams. In practice this does not often hold true. This study, therefore explores the different theories of leadership and how they can be influential in increasing engagement and productivity of offshore skilled workers. This exploration is done as a qualitative research using a case study of a high tech company in Sunnyvale, California with a large offshore unit in Bangalore India. The results of the study suggest that leadership is influential in managing offshore teams and by a more deliberate engagement where leadership theories are appropriately put in practice, there is a greater opportunity to benefit from offshore skilled workers beyond cost reduction.
|Subjects||Management; Computer science|
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