Boomerang outsourcing

We’re all familiar with the gripes about offshore outsourcing. Many don’t like American companies shipping jobs overseas. But what if work goes overseas and then comes back again? This boomerang effect is bringing jobs to the Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, where unemployment stands at 80 percent:

Increasingly, American Indians are looking to outsourcing as a way of boosting economic opportunity without having to stray from their lands. On the Pine Ridge reservation, a local Indian-owned marketing and Web design startup, Lakota Express, can thank sloppy handwriting for its outsourcing fortunes. “We’re people that have really been left out of the opportunities of the Industrial Revolution and now are being welcomed into the world economy in the Information Revolution,” said Mark Tilsen, a Lakota Express executive. Eight Lakota Express employees vet the accuracy of electronic documents that are transcribed in China by workers who, while understanding English, often have difficulty deciphering Americans’ handwriting. The work amounts to reverse outsourcing (performed as it is for a foreign company that has itself in the employ of a U.S. business). And experts expect plenty more of such work to become available. “There’s nothing better than watching a reservation community thrive. You’re seeing newer cars in the parking lot. They’re buying homes. And I’ve watched that happen,” said Carey Wold, a consultant who helped set up tribally owned companies on Northern Ute reservations in Utah.

Whole article here. American lawmakers have penned over 200 anti-outsourcing bills. But did they intend to trip up this kind of outsourcing? Once again the market evolves faster than regulatory definitions. The definition of outsourcing has always been blurry and it’s getting blurrier all the time. It’s kind of like defining a “foreign” car. What do you call a Toyota Camry that’s built in Kentucky? And when it’s shipped to Japan and sold there is it an import? In other globalization news, a Kenyan government official offered Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for Chelsea’s hand. (Thanks to Brad for that one.)