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What do we know about manufacturing reshoring?

Paolo Barbieri (Department of Business Science, University of Bologna , Bologna, Italy)
Francesco Ciabuschi (Department of Business Studies, University of Uppsala , Uppsala, Sweden)
Luciano Fratocchi (Department of Industrial Engineering and Information and Economics, University of L’Aquila , L’Aquila, Italy)
Matteo Vignoli (Department of Engineering Sciences and Methods, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia , Modena, Italy)

Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing

ISSN: 2398-5364

Article publication date: 19 February 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to analyze and classify research that has been conducted on manufacturing reshoring, i.e. the decision to bring back to the home country production activities earlier offshored, independently of the governance mode (insourcing vs outsourcing). Consequently, the paper also aims at providing avenues for future research and to highlight the distinct value of studying manufacturing reshoring either per se or in combination with other constructs of the international business tradition.

Design/methodology/approach

A set of 57 carefully selected articles on manufacturing reshoring published in international journals or books indexed on Scopus in the past 10 years was systematically analyzed based on the “5Ws and 1H” (who-what-where-when-why and how) set of questions.

Findings

The authors’ work shows a certain convergence among authors regarding what reshoring is and what its key features and motivations are. In contrast, other related aspects, such as the decision-making and implementation processes, are comparatively less understood.

Research limitations/implications

As manufacturing reshoring is a “recent” topic, for some of its aspects, only exploratory research is available to date, limiting the authors’ possibility to either characterize it in a more exhaustive way or highlight well-established patterns.

Practical implications

The paper demonstrates that studying reshoring will indeed contribute to expanding our understanding of internationalization processes and strategies in general and of production internationalization specifically. While past studies have argued that the learning derived from international experience would permit firms to overcome their unfamiliarity with new business environments, reshoring might show that this outcome is not necessarily certain. Rather, firms might not be able to overcome obstacles because of internationalization or they might realize that attempting to do so is not desirable, e.g. because of excessive risk or changes in the firm’s strategic priorities.

Social implications

From a societal point of view, the present research underlines that reshoring can be part of that re-industrialization policy that many Western countries include in their economic agenda – yet, its impact on employment should not be overestimated, as often relocation is only in regard to some product lines. At the same time, there might be an intimate relationship between reshoring and the various forms of technological innovations applied to manufacturing – which has become popularly labeled as “Industry 4.0”.

Originality/value

Literature reviews proposed until now usually paid almost exclusive attention to motivations driving this phenomenon. This paper offers a broader and more comprehensive examination of the extant knowledge of manufacturing reshoring and identifies the main unresolved issues and knowledge gaps, which future research should investigate.

Keywords

Citation

Barbieri, P., Ciabuschi, F., Fratocchi, L. and Vignoli, M. (2018), "What do we know about manufacturing reshoring?", Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 79-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGOSS-02-2017-0004

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited