Mari Sako

Professor of Management Studies

Saïd Business School

Mari is Professor of Management Studies at Saïd Business School, Co-Director of the Centre for Professional Service Firms and a Professorial Fellow of New College, Oxford.

Her most recent work has focused on business and professional services and on outsourcing. Her work on business services in the UK has attracted the interest of UK policy makers. Research findings highlight the fact 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. Her work on outsourcing has been mentioned in the Economist, the Financial Times, the Times, and the Economic Times of India.

Mari is currently looking at the way cost pressures are contributing to the outsourcing and offshoring of legal services and how this impacts the way law firms work. While there is considerable diversity in its effects, law firms that are outsourcing are using multiple service providers and requiring them to work cooperatively in their provision of client services. This work is particularly relevant in the context of regulatory changes, such as the introduction in the UK of the Legal Services Act. This stipulates the activities that can only be undertaken by qualified lawyers and regulates providers that firms draw on for outsourced services. Mari’s research findings in this area inform her executive education work with law firms. She is also a regular speaker at Law Society and other professional conferences.

With over 20 years’ research in the area of global strategy, Mari earlier 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 automakers 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.