Examining human resource management outsourcing in Hong Kong

Flora CHIANG, Irene Hau Siu Chow, Thomas A. Birtch

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    This study explored the state of human resource (HR) outsourcing in the Asian context, a particularly important subject given its rapid proliferation in Europe and North America, the inconsistent and limited evidence from prior research, and its strategic importance to the human resource management (HRM) function. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data and the transaction cost, resource-based, and institutional perspectives, we found that although respondents were generally favourable towards outsourcing, that in practice its adoption and diffusion were in a nascent stage in Hong Kong. Decisions to outsource were, by and large, incremental and experimental and influenced by a range of contextual factors (e.g., availability of in-house expertise, skills and creativity, strategic priorities, legislation (coercive), availability of external service providers, and industry and peer (mimetic) influence). Despite considerable pressure to cut costs, instead of outsourcing in the first instance, firms placed greater emphasis on maximising internal resource utilization (insourcing). Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are also provided.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2762-2777
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Strategy and Management
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Hong kong
    • Human resource outsourcing
    • Institutional theory
    • Resource based perspective
    • Transaction cost economics


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