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Science Careers Blog

January 18, 2013

Do-It-Yourself Outsourcing

Why wait for your employer to outsource your job to a low-wage country and pocket the difference in wage levels when you can enhance your own income by doing it yourself?  With many research workers, engineers and tech workers worried about their jobs moving overseas, a "star programmer" at an American firm figured out a creative and lucrative variation, reports Steven Poole in the Sydney Morning Herald.

This worker, identified only as "Bob," hired a programmer in China to do his work for a fraction of his "six-figure salary," Poole writes.  "Bob" then split his office days between leisurely web surfing and taking on additional gigs from other clients that he also outsourced to China.  He ended up earning not only several times his main salary, but also kudos from his main employer as one of the company's best producers.

Unfortunately for "Bob," once that employer learned of his creative adventures in salary arbitrage, it did not consider him a bold organizational thinker and give him a big promotion.  Rather, it gave him the boot for not doing his work.  When it comes to profiting from wage differentials, it appears that sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.  "Bob's story," Poole observes, "shows that the line for an employee is drawn where you begin exploiting the company rather than the company exploiting you."

(Speaking of international outsourcing, thanks to science editor Wilson Da Silva of Australia for letting me know about this article.)

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