Offshoring of Tasks: Taylorism Versus Toyotism


  • The paper is presented in the authors' personal capacities and opinions expressed therein should be attributed to the authors and do not represent positions or opinions of the WTO, the OECD or their respective Members. The authors wish to thank Michael Handel, Elif Koksal-Oudot, Pascal Marianna and Bo Werth for their help and an anonymous referee for useful comments.


This paper contributes to the recent debate on trade in tasks, drawing on insights from the theory of the firm as well as recent developments in trade theory. Recent empirical literature suggests that between 20 and 30 per cent of all jobs in key OECD countries could be digitised and offshored. This study offers a cluster analysis which documents that offshorable and non-offshorable tasks tend to be performed together across occupations. Therefore, when assessing the offshorability of a job, one needs to take into account all tasks being performed by the worker and the gains from fragmenting jobs versus the benefits of multi-tasked workers (taylorism versus toyotism). Furthermore, one needs to distinguish between fragmentation of production and fragmentation of jobs.