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Insourcing is the commencement of performing a business function that could be contracted out internally: either with the help of a third-party provider who performs the task on-site, or by conducting said task independently.[1][2] Very often it is seen as opposite of outsourcing. Insourcing is a business decision that is often made to maintain control of critical production or competencies. Insourcing is widely used in production to reduce costs of taxes, labor and transportation.

Insourcing is also defined as bringing a third party outsourcer to work inside a company's facility. For example, an IT outsourcing provider may be hired to service a company's IT department while working inside the company's facilities.[1] In addition to contracting an entire team of workers from an outsourcing provider, outside experts are sometimes hired as consultants (to improve certain processes etc.) and the internal staff thereafter implements their recommendations.[3] It may also refer to bringing in foreign nationals to do jobs at lower wages. An example would be a coal mine which lists a foreign language (i.e. Mandarin Chinese) as a job prerequisite that citizens tend not to study. Since the labour pool does not have the listed skill a foreign worker permit can be obtained allowing the importation of Chinese workers.

Insourcing also includes a company assigning a project, be it services, R&D or manufacturing, to a subsidiary or to another company that is within the same country of the company’s location; this is also referred to as "Outsourcing". However, the term Outsourcing usually refers to a project that was being performed in-house but now will be performed by another company; either within or outside the company’s country. Whereas, Insourcing can be any project that is required by the company to meet its needs; the project is not necessarily being performed in-house. Insourcing also includes the “reshoring” of projects when a company brings home projects that are performed in another country and now will be performed in the company’s country; either inside or outside the company.[4]

To those who are concerned that nations may be losing a net amount of jobs due to outsourcing, some[5] point out that insourcing also occurs. According to a study by Mary Amiti and Shang-Jin Wei,[6] in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other industrialized countries more jobs are insourced than outsourced. They found that out of all the countries in the world they studied, the United States and the United Kingdom actually have the largest net trade surpluses in business services. Countries with a net deficit in business services include Indonesia, Germany and Ireland.


Insourcing is often confused with onshoring, which is a company's decision to bring jobs back from overseas, or backsourcing, which is when a company decides to conduct all their jobs in-house.

The prefixes to "-sourcing" and "-shoring" remain in flux: Outsourcing gave rise to the term in-sourcing, and offshoring resulted in on-shoring. However, onshoring is sometimes called in-shoring. Insourcing is sometimes named "backsourcing." Insourcing may be done by "onshoring", "offshoring" or just "remotely." Insourcing delegates certain work to a different company, which may come from a different country in the case of onshoring, or from a different continent in the case of offshoring.

The fluctuation of prefixes and names give rise to many more "cross-breeds" of insourcing. For example, "offshore insourcing" is "when companies set up their own "captive" process centers overseas, taking advantage of their cheaper surroundings while maintaining control of their back-office work and business processes."[7] "Remote insourcing" refers to hiring developers to work in-house from virtual (remote) facilities.[8]

In the United States[edit]

During 2012 the US manufacturing tide began turning. Two lead articles[which?] in The Atlantic, Dec. 2012, explain why. Rising third-world wages, recognition that many off-shoring costs were large and hidden, rapid consumer product innovation and shrinking design/manufacture to market times, reduced manufacturing costs flowing from integrating skilled workers into the product design teams (dramatically cutting assembly times and complexity), increasing overseas fuel and transportation costs, falling energy costs in the US, increasing US labor productivity, and union flexibility. The list is long and growing.

Manufacturing of many products will never return to the US (e.g. mass market goods such as toys, TV screens, computer chips, electric motors, and non-designer clothing) but in many sectors manufacturing is returning home. Hiring at GE’s giant Appliance Park in Louisville is up 90% in 2012. More foreign companies (including Chinese manufacturers) are opening US plants.

US manufacturers cannot affect many of the changed factors (such as rising foreign labor and energy costs) that are creating insourcing, but one key is controllable — low on-shore costs — a work culture that engages employees to bring their experience and creativity to simplify and shorten the production design and manufacturing process. Creating this culture takes special leadership to build strong relationships, trust, participatory decisions, and open communications.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Outsourcing and Insourcing Jobs in the U.S. Economy: Evidence Based on Foreign Investment Data Jackson, J. K. (2008). Outsourcing and insourcing jobs in the U.S. economy: Evidence based on foreign investment data (RL32461). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.[9][10]
  • Insourcing Functions Performed by Federal Contractors: An Overview of the Legal Issues Manuel, K.M. and Maskell, J. (2013). (RL41810) Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service[11]


  1. ^ a b "Outsourcing, BPO & Contract Manufacturing Market Research-Access Industry Trends, Revenues, Statistics, Forecasts, Technologies, Mailing Lists". 1947-12-16. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  2. ^ Rouse, Margaret. "What is insourcing? - Definition from". Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  3. ^ "Cloud Seller - For Microsoft Cloud Products | Cloud Seller - For Microsoft Cloud Products". Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  4. ^ Insource To America, LLC.
  5. ^ Sirkin, Harold L. (2011-08-25). "Made in America, Again". Bcg.perspectives. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  6. ^ Amiti, Mary & Wei, Shang-Jin (2004). "Fear of Service Outsourcing: Is it Justified?" (PDF). WP/04/186, International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  7. ^ "Gartner: Don't forget to insource". 2003-09-04. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-03. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  9. ^ ""Outsourcing and Insourcing Jobs in the U.S. Economy: Evidence Based on" by James K. Jackson". 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  10. ^ James K. Jackson. "Outsourcing and Insourcing Jobs in the U.S. Economy: Evidence Based on Foreign Investment Data". Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  11. ^ Kate M. Manuel. "Insourcing Functions Performed by Federal Contractors: Legal Issues" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-05-23.