Outsourcing Debate Rages On
At the Hot Chips conference, Silicon Valley executives take sides in the hotly contested outsourcing debate.STANFORD, Calif.A conference of the meritoriously employed debated the benefits and pitfalls of outsourcing Monday night, largely concluding that the trend toward shipping jobs abroad was inevitable. The post-dinner panel discussion at the Hot Chips conference here topped 2 hours, with questioners lining up to question, challenge and debate a panel of Silicon Valley executives, at least two of whom have tried to use their U.S. education to benefit India, a touchstone for the outsourcing debate. Outsourcing, also called offshoring, has been among Silicon Valleys most hotly debated issues since companies started eyeing their bottom lines in the wake of the dot-com bust. On one hand, high-tech employers have realized that there are hundreds of thousands of foreign-born engineers willing to work for a fraction of the cost of American workers. Those same American employees, on the other hand, have found themselves on the down side of a global economy finding its level.
Panelists included Ron Hira, an engineer and now assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, who joined Natasha Humphries of the TechsUnite Silicon Valley chapter in a largely critical stance toward outsourcing. Vinod Dham, co-founder of VC firm NewPath Ventures, and Pratul Shroff, founder and chief executive of eInfoChips, both said outsourcing could work, if managed correctly.