the Center for Digital Strategies at Tuck, in collaboration with Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts, hosted a panel on offshore outsourcing, followed by a presentation of a provocative documentary on the making of Alladeen, an internationally acclaimed multimedia performance-art production on outsourcing call centers to India.
This panel served as a preface to the play's two performances at the Hop on April 9 and 10.
The panel discussion explored the business, social and ethical implications of outsourcing to developing nations, focusing particularly on the offshoring of services such as call centers or IT services. Over 150 people packed the Cohen Great Hall in Whittemore Hall to hear the panelists address such questions as:
- How much cheaper is it really for a company to have a call center in India?
- What have the business challenges been of making such offshore arrangements work?
- What are the criteria for deciding what functions should be outsourced offshore?
- Why do some companies outsource to Asia and others merely to Canada?
- What are the long-term implications for the U.S economy and U.S. workforce?
- Will the public image of big companies be tainted by offshore outsourcing?
- What are the obligations of U.S. companies in regard to the impact of offshoring in the U.S. or abroad?
- What is the impact of U.S. offshoring on "receiver" nations such as India and the Philippines? Are they purely economic, or also cultural? Good or bad?
- What are the ethical issues, if any, of presenting Sushmita from Bangalore as if she were Sue from Des Moines?
The panel was moderated by Professor Paul Argenti. The panelists were:
- Jack Freker, President, Customer Management Group, Convergys Corporation
- Paul Gaffney, Executive VP, Staples Inc.
- Keith Khan, Director and Co-creator, Alladeen
- Sonal Shah, Associate Director for Economic and Foreign Policy, Center for American Progress
After a dinner break, the discussion continued as Keith Khan and Marianne Weems, directors and co-creators of Alladeen, presented a documentary, entitled "Burning the Midnight Oil: The Making of Alladeen," on the making of this cross-cultural theater work.