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This Briefing Note considers recent trends in specialisation, outsourcing and offshoring of business services.

Specialisation within a firm happens when a firm organises an activity in a specialised units, for example, when a firm moves payroll activities out of the back office of a factory, and into a specialised payroll office. Outsourcing is specialisation outside the firm. This occurs when firms opt to 'buy' rather than 'make' in-house. Outsourcing involves greater specialisation as firms switch from sourcing inputs internally to sourcing them from separately owned suppliers. Offshoring occurs when firms move production overseas - either its own specialised unit or outsourced services.

Business Services are services that are provided to other business, rather than directly to the public. They include Computer Services, Professional Services (Legal, Accountancy, Market Research, Technical, Engineering, Architectural, Advertising and Consultancy), Research and Development, as well as other services such as Labour Placement Agencies and Call Centres.