Professor Sako’s most recent work has focused on business and professional services and on outsourcing. Her research suggests that, unlike manufacturing, productivity growth in business services benefits job creation and contributes positively to the balance of trade. She has also investigated outsourcing and its impact on productivity, concluding that outsourcing works best where it is at the heart of corporate restructuring and where it is a strategic decision, not simply a reaction to the latest fad or fashion. She is currently looking at the way cost pressures are contributing to the outsourcing and offshoring of legal services and how this affects the way law firms work.
Her earlier work on global strategy made a significant contribution to the understanding of the Japanese economy and Japanese firms. In the 1990s and 2000s, she was a researcher for the MIT International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP), which gave her a valuable opportunity to be out in the field, observing and interviewing managers and workers at car manufacturers in Japan, Europe and the USA. Drawing on lessons from the Japanese model, she then worked with a number of firms to reconfigure their supplier relationship management.
- Outsourcing and offshoring
- International business strategy
- Car industry
- Skills and training
- Japanese business