Define: Outsourcing

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Outsourcing

Quick Summary of Outsourcing

Subcontracting work outside of the company, often for things that don’t require full time staffing, such as yearly tax preparation or one-time projects.

What is the dictionary definition of Outsourcing?

Dictionary Definition

  • The transfer of a business function to an external service provider.
  • To transfer the management and/or day-to-day execution of a business function to a third-party service provider.


Full Definition of Outsourcing

Outsourcing is the practice of companies transferring work to outside sources to increase efficiency and cut costs. Outsourcing differs from simply buying products and services from a supplier. Rather than dealing at arms-length, outsourcing usually entails substantial coordination, if not outright management, of the external vendor’s activities.

In the early 21st century, outsourcing had one other, strongly negative, connotation: the displacement of U.S. staff by foreign workers.

For example, a stereotypical example of outsourcing might be the use of a call centre in India for making airline reservations for a U.S. carrier.

Those opposing outsourcing argue that it destroys American jobs and erodes the power of labour unions. Proponents of outsourcing say, however, that outsourcing increases productivity and profits; while causing some short-term displacement, outsourcing ultimately enhances the economic opportunity for all workers.

Outsourcing is sometimes used loosely as a synonym for globalization, but outsourcing is a narrower term: unlike globalization, outsourcing does not comprehend all types of economic interdependence between countries.


Examples of Outsourcing in a sentence

The computer company began outsourcing late hour customer support due to the low volume of calls and the cheaper costs.
Outsourcing is one way for corporations to save money, though it may impact customer service negatively.
They decided to outsource the design and manufacture of the system to a vendor.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Outsourcing. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. March 29, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Outsourcing. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: March 29, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Outsourcing. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Outsourcing are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 6th February 2020.