More than a year ago, BusinessWeek connected the dots on what many now recognize as one of the global economy's most profound trends: the shift offshore of white-collar work. Many Americans had heard examples of how U.S. companies were using skilled workers in India or the Philippines to write software code or handle service calls. But neither the public, the business community, politicians, nor even many leading economists realized just how pervasive the trend had become.
Our Feb. 3, 2003, Cover Story, "Is Your Job Next?" by Pete Engardio, Aaron Bernstein, and Manjeet Kripalani, demonstrated that offshore outsourcing was becoming a factor in accounting, architecture, semiconductor design, financial analysis, and industrial engineering. Now, "Is Your Job Next?" is a recipient of the 2003 George Polk Award, first presented by Long Island University in 1949 to memorialize the CBS correspondent slain covering a civil war in Greece.
"Is Your Job Next?" which ran in Europe and Asia as "The New Global Job Shift," kick-started what has become a raging national debate over the competitiveness of the U.S. worker in services and high technology -- indeed, over whether America itself is in danger of losing its competitive edge in these sectors. With vivid, on-the-ground reporting from India, the Philippines, Russia, and the U.S., the story illustrated not only the wide pay gaps between skilled workers in the U.S. and in developing nations, but also the talents and commitment of the people in Asia and Eastern Europe who are now doing the same work as Americans.
"The Rise of India" (Dec. 8) pushed the story dramatically further, examining the impact in India as well as the U.S. And "Software: Will outsourcing hurt America's supremacy?" (Mar. 1) tracked two graduate students, one in Bombay and one in Pittsburgh, for insight into how to keep the U.S. software industry strong. Even better, coupling innovative approaches with offshoring could pay off for everyone.
We're proud of our early-bird coverage of one of the critical issues of our time.
By Stephen B. Shepard, Editor-in-Chief