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Leading in a Global Market : Can the 24-Hour Knowledge Factory Replace the Graveyard Shift?

24-Hour Knowledge Factory (globes as lightbulbs)

The 24-hour knowledge factory is a model Dr. Amar Gupta has developed to efficiently complete projects across international boundaries.

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March 2009

By Liz Warren-Pederson

Collaborating centers in time zones six to eight hours apart can transfer work so that every center is working during the daytime. Although this concept avoids the hazards of night work, it requires careful planning and a way to automatically capture evolving knowledge.

"Decades ago, companies developing software applications viewed the geographic dispersion of computer professionals as a performance and productivity bottleneck," writes Amar Gupta, Thomas R. Brown Chair in Management and Technology, in the cover feature of the January 2009 issue of IEEE Computer.

"The time difference, they argued, would hamper the ability to execute work, adding delays and overhead, such as travel expense. Rather than outsource development to distant countries, most organizations addressed productivity by adding a night, or graveyard, shift."

The 24-hour knowledge factory is a model Gupta has developed to efficiently complete projects across international boundaries. "To illustrate how a 24-hour knowledge factory might operate, consider the workflow in three centers," he says. "An employee in a North or South American center ends work at 5 p.m. and transfers work to a worker in an Asian or Australian center, which is just beginning its workday. Approximately eight hours later, that worker transfers work to a third worker in a European or an African center, who at the end of the day, transfers the work back to the American center, and the cycle begins again."

The model has broad applications, including software development and medical industry. For more information, explore the NEXT Initiative at the Eller College.

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