Maybe stealing is an unfair word, but I'll let the rest of you decide. I have linked to dozens of articles over the last few months on the new trend of outsourcing white collar jobs. Now Daniel Pink has written an excellent piece that takes a behind the scenes look at what is happening. I'm a little late getting to it, since I was out of town, but if you haven't read it yet it is definitely worth a look. What really surprised me was this part of the article:
Ritesh Maniar reminds me that Hexaware has scored a Level 5 rating from Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute, the highest international standard a software company can achieve. The others are quick to note that, of the 70 or so companies in the world that have earned this designation, half are from India. Over several days, here and at other companies, I hear this factoid repeated like a campaign talking point.
Translation: We're not just cheaper, we're better.
And that, they say, is good for everyone. Maniar, a senior technical architect, describes one American client: "We helped them become process-oriented, which they were not before. They were spending again and again on the same thing. We explained the process that we follow, because we would like to bring them up to our standards."
So much of what I have read makes the point that American programmers are superior to those in India. Now I wonder who is really better? This will be an interesting economic game to watch, and I bet both sides will see evidence that proves they are correct. The danger of these decisions is that we can't really know how it will turn out – economies are marvelously complex and I don't think we always capture the chaotic and nonlinear feedback effects in our simplistic economic theories. All we can do is see what this country is like in ten years, and keep making the best decisions we can.