Outsourcing: Is it ethical?

Posted on Feb 22 2014 - 9:16pm by Guest Writer

By Cheyanne Schaefer, Guest Writer

From kindergartners to college students, many people consume goods on a daily basis and are unaware of the ethical debate surrounding the production of these goods. A major ethical debate involves outsourcing internationally, a practice that is growing in the United States.

According to Investopedia, a website that defines business terms, outsourcing is “A practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally.”

For example, tasks in accounting, research and financial analysis could be sent to another country in a different timezone overnight, where the tasks would be completed and sent back to the U.S. company by morning. This definition also includes major U.S. clothing companies that utilize foreign sweatshops.

There are many companies in the U.S. using outsourcing to help make a larger profit. These include Amazon, Ford, Dell, Gateway, Target and many more. These companies provide exceptional products that people are constantly paying top dollar to buy, but perhaps not all of these customers consider where these products are coming from.

Businesses want to outsource because they are seeking to make the best profit possible. They can achieve more profit by continually having lower costs with production in other countries.

Some companies in the U.S. are clearly driven by the profit motive, which is what outsourcing helps achieve. Another great reason to outsource is that it helps allow companies to reach outside the U.S. to find the best expertise for the job.

On the other hand, with businesses moving their work out of the U.S. to other locations where they can maintain cheaper costs, fewer jobs are provided to the average American. This then creates a more uneven distribution of wealth concerning the economy, as the owners of the company become wealthier and the average person becomes poorer.

With these factors in mind, there is a common question of whether outsourcing is or is not ethical, but it really boils down to an individual’s moral perspective.

One way to look at outsourcing is that it helps provide jobs and income for other countries around the world that may be in dire need of the help.

As for the con side of outsourcing, some people may question the actual quality and safety of the products being outsourced. Every country has different production and safety laws.

“We need to go back to old school America and make it all here,” sophomore Alyssa Luttress, a business student, said. “I understand how cost efficient it is to outsource, but in the long run we can be so much more cost effective, efficient and have more domestic opportunity.”

Another business student, senior Tabitha Gross, said she feels it is a necessary but problematic business practice. “With consumers demanding low-priced goods and services, businesses have no choice but to decrease their own expenses in order to remain competitive in the marketplace,” Gross said.

However, Gross said she believes outsourcing is not the answer to delivering low priced goods and services. “It often reduces the quality of the products and services while putting qualified workers in the community out of work,” Gross said.

Considering those two opinions, it seems as though it is unethical to outsource when the U.S. population is in need of jobs and many prefer American-made products. It is clear that by discontinuing outsourcing in the U.S., we would then have more jobs available here for people living in the U.S. However, even with these advantageous outcomes, it is always important to remember the benefits that would be ending along with outsourcing.