The logistics associated with investing in low-cost countries are well understood but the people issues seem far less so, despite their influence on success or failure.

IBM interviewed a large number of operations and HR executives in Global 1000 companies, focusing on identifying good practices associated with a number of HR processes, including recruitment and selection, learning and knowledge management, recognition and retention, and leadership. Some of the report’s lessons point to the potential issue of skills shortages in these markets.


Despite large pools of candidates, there is often an ongoing “war for talent” and all the retention issues associated with this. This problem is often compounded by the need for most companies to hire large numbers of employees in a relatively short time. The report highlights the most common and effective recruitment channels used by companies in these markets. Employment retention strategies were also analysed.

The study details four lessons that organisations should consider when deciding to establish a back-office or contact centre in an emerging economy: 1) actively manage the challenges of hyper-growth of a new industry within the context of an emerging economy; 2) make decisions based on factors beyond wage differentials; 3) provide clearly defined development and career opportunities for local and expatriate staff; 4) leverage the global corporate reputation and local experience in the receiving country.



Wim Douw is a senior consultant at IBM-PLI.