​​Offshoring in South Africa Is Beyond the Vision and Presumptions of Economics


​The research topic is aimed at exploring the nuances that is associated with South African culture that provides a competitive advantage to international outsourcers. Tangible factors such as relaxed tax laws, employment as a key South African governmental driver as well as limitations such infrastructure, recruitment costs, labour availability and poor I.T. infrastructure are considered as this impacts decision making when evaluating a potential offshore country.

A further focus will be placed on customer experience management of the SA workforce and in particular the cultural affinity to specific international markets. Research shows that the profile of the 2020 consumer has changed and to a large degree e-commerce supports the ‘on demand’ requirement of this consumer. Being three years away from realising the next generation of consumers makes it more important than ever for industries such as Contact Centres who operate in a virtual space to appropriately gear for this type of consumer. Cultural Intelligence is defined as “the awareness of cross-cultural differences, as well as the ability to function successfully in cross-cultural situations” (Robbins, 2003:42). Critically evaluating and considering ones’ human capital as an asset and developing the workforces’ cultural intelligence could serve as a sustainable competitive advantage to both the Contact Centre as well as the offshore organisation.

The rich, diverse culture within South Africa presents a unique opportunity to develop cultural intelligence. Contact Centre Managers, traditionally understand the scope of managing outputs linked to a metric system, however behavioural undertones pose a challenge and presents the biggest risk to any business as the impact is felt both internally and externally.

Behavioural impacts within an organisation can be seen operationally (through processes), corporate culture (the manner of doing things) and corporate values where misalignment between individual values and belief systems and that of the organisation exists.  The resultant factors of internal behavioural “issues” will inevitably have an impact on the consumer and their impression of the service offering and corporate brand in general. A brand is no longer owned by a company and thus added complexity makes it more evident for organisations (and Contact Centres in particular) to influence the consumer by understanding their unique demands, expectations and country-specific norms, specifically in a South African context, and match those to the service offering being presented by the brand through various campaigns.

The research engagement with stakeholders in all sectors of the Contact Centre Industry, both local and international will help to determine this understanding.

Full academic paper available upon request.

Presented at:

​Cape Town, L&D Summit's Industry Panel Discussion