Perhaps the scope of today's make-or-buy decision and its consequences are more complex (and often much less obvious) than in the post- World War II period of [James W. Culliton]'s study. If so, we could argue that these decisions need to be put in more of a strategic context for our organizations than ever before.
Survival Lessons for Libraries ALTERNATE SOURCING: A Critical Component of Your Survival By rigorously evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of Toolkit all information service activities in terms of “buying” rather than “making,” library managers can take a leadership role and put themselves in a position to, if not control the decisions, at least not get caught by surprise. Research Background In 1942, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration, Bureau of Business Research published the case study “Make or Buy: A Consideration of the Problems Fundamental to a Decision Whether to Manufacture or Buy Materials, Accessory Equipment, Fabricating Parts, and Supplies.” The study was written by James W. Culliton, a pro- fessor of business management at Boston College’s School of Business Administration.1 Culliton’s thesis was that “every economic entity, whether it be a family, a business, or a gov- by Toby Pearlstein ernment, frequently must decide whether to make or to buy Former Director Global Information Services the things it needs.”2 Bain & Company, Inc. At the time, Culliton noted that “despite the frequency with which make or buy alternatives arise in business, there is little in and James Matarazzo business literature to tell how businessmen make the choice, and Dean and Professor Emeritus there is even less dealing with the way in which businessmen Graduate School of Library and Information Science should proceed when faced with the alternative of making or of Simmons College buying.”3 He called for the development of a more systematic 32 SEARCHER ■ The Magazine for Database Professionals SURVIVAL LESSONS FOR LIBRARIES www.infotoday.com/searcher September 2009 33 SURVIVAL LESSONS FOR LIBRARIES procedure than simply listing the possible advantages or disad- Fahy (2008) is convinced that outsourcing the management vantages for discovering whether, in a specific instance, making of information in the legal profession is here to stay. 10 She sug- or buying could be expected to bring the greater advantages. gests that information managers see this as an opportunity to Culliton recognized that labor problems, quality considera- increase the value of the remaining in-house staff while provid- tions, and potential savings were fundamental to this decision- ing an outline for successful outsourcing. Worley (2008), on the making process and that the decision was actually quite com- other hand, describes the outsourcing process in the context of plex, with multiple variations possi
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