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Does sustainability matter for reshoring strategies? A literature review

Luciano Fratocchi (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale e dell'Informazione e di Economia, Universita degli Studi dell'Aquila , L'Aquila, Italy)
Cristina Di Stefano (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale e dell'Informazione e di Economia, Universita degli Studi dell'Aquila , L'Aquila, Italy)

Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing

ISSN: 2398-5364

Article publication date: 23 October 2019

Issue publication date: 23 October 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

Production activities affect environmental and social pillars of firm’s sustainability. Therefore, decisions regarding where products are manufactured have a tremendous impact on a firm’s sustainability. However, until now, interdependencies among back-shoring decisions and sustainability issues have been rarely addressed. This paper aims to fill this research gap and develop avenues for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts an explorative approach based on a two-steps desk research strategy. In the first one, a structured literature review is implemented analysing 105 Scopus documents published up to August 2018. In the second step, empirical evidence of manufacturing back-shoring decisions coming from secondary sources is analysed and discussed.

Findings

The investigated research questions shed new light on the “how” back-shoring decisions are taken and implemented. The structured review and the empirical evidence show that environmental and social sustainability issues are increasingly assuming certain relevance for the academic debate and managerial decisions.

Research limitations/implications

The structured analysis of the selected literature and the empirical evidence sorted by the UnivAQ Manufacturing Reshoring Dataset clearly shows that neither scholars nor firms’ managers and entrepreneurs considered the environmental and social pillars of sustainability as the most relevant in terms of back-shoring drivers/motivation, outcome/benefit and/or barrier/enabler.

Practical implications

The paper suggests policymakers that sustainability-based legislations may influence – and support – the firm’s decision to backshore. At the same time, policymakers should carefully reflect on the role of market labour laws and ensure that relocations are not based on “informal subcontracting and informal employment”. At the same time, the paper suggest managers to adopt a “progressive” and/or a “selective” approach when implementing reshoring decisions based (also) on sustainability issues.

Originality/value

Even if other authors suggest that sustainability issues may be relevant for the reshoring decisions, this is the first attempt to define the base of knowledge on this topic and to suggest avenues for further research.

Keywords

Citation

Fratocchi, L. and Di Stefano, C. (2019), "Does sustainability matter for reshoring strategies? A literature review", Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 449-476. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGOSS-02-2019-0018

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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