Building a Reputation as a Business Partner in Information Technology Outsourcing (Open Access)


Publication History

Received: May 21, 2018
Revised: December 13, 2019; December 5, 2020; September 21, 2021
Accepted: May 4, 2022
Published Online as Articles in Advance: Forthcoming
Published Online in Issue: Forthcoming


One noticeable trend in a maturing Information Technology (IT) outsourcing industry is the growing interest from client firms to benefit from supplier-led innovations. Yet, IT outsourcing suppliers still find it challenging to shift their reputation from the competent provision of a low-end service to a high-value innovative line of services, thus becoming known as business partners. We address this issue by examining the reputation formation efforts of an IT supplier experiencing a reputation deficit, both in terms of quality—ability as a business partner—and intent—intention to adopt trustworthy behavior. We set about developing a theory from a case study of a large IT supplier that engaged in reputation formation with its outsourcing client. We portray reputation formation as a process wherein an IT supplier alternately emits signals of quality and intent from a repertoire of signals. Our process model distinguishes between signaling at the market level, which relies on rhetorical mediums to broadcast a message promoting the supplier’s ability as a business partner, and signaling at the client level, which relies on substantive mediums such as demonstrations of the supplier’s ability to solve the client’s business problems, and behavioral mediums that allow the client to assess the supplier’s intent to adopt trustworthy behavior.

Additional Details
Author Julia Kotlarsky, Suzanne Rivard, and Ilan Oshri
Year 0
Volume Forthcoming
Issue Forthcoming
Keywords IT outsourcing, reputation formation, signaling theory, reputation deficit, qualitative case study
Page Numbers
Copyright © 2022 MISQ. All rights reserved.