logo

When the East Outsources to the West

Home » architecture jobs » When the East Outsources to the West

When the East Outsources to the West

| architecture jobs, Hiring trends | March 14, 2013

By connecting the dots in the media, markets, nations, books etc. one can generate ideas and spot trends. Today I shall connect dots from various sectors e.g. nations, projects, architects etc. with the purpose of doing news analysis and spotting the hot zones in the current market for architects. The analysis would be of the times when the East outsourced architects of the West. With this as the backdrop, here is my first article for this blog.

In the book titled ‘The Elephant and the Dragon’ by Robyn Meredith, Nandan Nilekani has said that “People should look at careers which cannot be delivered over a wire. If someone is a cardiac surgeon, they are not going to be displaced. But if they are a radiologist, somebody from Bangalore is liable to check X-rays over a wire.”  The moral being that jobs which will always stay in America are the one’s which are land and people bound.

Architecture is definitely land and people bound, for it is dictated by location, climate, context, local materials and the culture of the society. But given the state of technology in architecture, drawings, building models etc. can also be delivered over a wire. So it will be interesting to analyze the ramifications of the pull and push caused by these two forces, in the architectural profession. Interestingly many times the East has outsourced to the architects in the West. As a seer of this situation, I have compiled a list of circumstances under which this takes place. They are as follows:

1. When new nations are born or old become independent.

The political leaders of the above mentioned nations look for experienced minds to lead the way e.g. when India gained independence, her Prime Minister Pt. Nehru commissioned:

  • The British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens to plan the city of New Delhi and
  • The French architect Le Corbusier to plan the city of Chandigarh.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

2. When fresh and innovative ideas are needed from foreign minds.

Here are a few examples of these:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 3. When an architect is chosen as a winner in a competition e.g.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

4. When architects who specialize in a certain scale and type of projects are needed.

These are usually projects that are of national importance, have huge budget with funding by the government or a private client for whom budget is not a problem.  Here are a few examples of these:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

5. When new found capitalism creates a booming economy.

With the growth of communist capitalism in China (from 1978) and democratic capitalism in India (from 1991), there has been tremendous growth in both the nations. Now that enough time has elapsed since its initiation, prosperity is trickling into the private sector as well. Hence clients in the private sector can afford the best that money can buy. Here is an article from NYT that cites many examples of private companies and people who have commissioned smaller American companies to design their projects. This is great news as it is bringing in much needed jobs in America.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

It is interesting to note that when the West outsources to the East (in non-architectural sectors), it is done to reduce cost and it is usually done for low-level jobs. But when the East outsources to the West (in the field of Architecture) it is for jobs that require special expertise, innovation, creativity. These are usually high-level jobs where budget is not an issue.

With all this happening in the world, it would be right to predict that:

  • There would be many architectural firms from the West that would collaborate with the East, to meet the new demands of the market.
  • Many local companies in the West will grow into multi-nationals, to work on projects in the East.
  • The demand for architects who are multi-cultural and speak other languages besides English will grow. They will be the key links between East and West. They will enrich the profession with their unique understanding of both the worlds.
  • There would be major synergy of ideas between East and West.

To explain this better, I cannot help but think about two movies that would not have been what they are but for the hand of the West in them. Imagine Slumdog Millionaire (set in India) without Danny Boyle or Kung Fu Panda (set in China) without Hollywood. I don’t mean to belittle anyone but what I am trying to say is that the synergy between East and West can sure create miracles. Be it any field, Architecture and movies are just two examples. In conclusion, in order to fit better into the global economy, the architects from the West may even have to reinvent themselves. We sure are living in interesting times!

Ratna Dalal

Architect | Author | Artist | Blogger

———————————————————————————————————

There are no foreign lands, only foreigners.

– Mark Twain

Share with your colleagues
RSS
Follow by Email
Twitter
Visit Us
Follow Me
YouTube
YouTube
LinkedIn
Share
Houzz
Houzz
About the author

After working at various design practices on a full-time and freelance basis, and starting his own design firm, David McFadden saw that there was a gap to be filled in the industry. In 1984, he created an expansive hub for architects and hiring firms to sync up, complete projects, and mutually benefit. That hub was Consulting For Architects Inc., which enabled architects to find meaningful design work, while freeing hiring firms from tedious hiring-firing cycles. This departure from the traditional, more rigid style of employer-employee relations was just what the industry needed - flexibility and adaption to modern work circumstances. David has successfully advised his clients through the trials and tribulations of four recessions – the early 80’s, the early 90’s, the early 2000’s, and the Great Recession of 2007.

No comments so far!

Share with your colleagues!

RSS
Follow by Email
Twitter
Visit Us
Follow Me
YouTube
YouTube
LinkedIn
Share
Houzz
Houzz
New Jobs