Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze how and why the question of outsourcing or insourcing within a specific empirical context, telecommunications services, has been handled differently over time.
Design/methodology/approach – A longitudinal study on procurement of telecommunications for the Swedish public sector's organizations during the last 40 years. The empirical data were collected from three case studies and one research project.
Findings – The paper identifies four phases: from a simple buying situations, via insourcing of equipment in order to produce some services in-house, to outsourcing of telecommunications in a first step and to outsourcing of combined data and telecommunications in a second step. Three major contextual determinants are identified for the public procurement of telecommunications services: de-monopolization, rapid technical development and pressure on public agencies from politicians, citizens and others. In addition to low cost, core competence, control and flexibility, the paper identifies business development as a new logic for outsourcing and insourcing.
Research limitations/implications – This study is limited to Sweden and public procurement of telecommunications services. Therefore, it would be of value to test if the development of public procurement of telecommunications in other countries passed through the same phases and with the same determinants.
Practical implications – Many of the findings are valid for public procurement in other countries, especially in the European Union due to the common legislative base for public procurement.
Originality/value – The paper fulfills an identified need to carry out a longitudinal study of changes in public procurement of telecommunications through the different phases of in/outsourcing.
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2010. Vol. 3, no 2, 144-162 p.