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Linkages among automation, job displacement and reshoring: evidence from the Bangladeshi apparel industry

Md Aynul Hoque (Asia Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Rajah Rasiah (Asia Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Fumitaka Furuoka (Asia Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Sameer Kumar (Asia Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Research Journal of Textile and Apparel

ISSN: 1560-6074

Article publication date: 23 October 2021

Issue publication date: 28 November 2022

307

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to evaluate the impact of automation on job displacement and reshoring in the apparel industry. It also compares with predictions on the same subject matter by the existing literature and, thus, provides future research agenda for further studies.

Design/methodology/approach

Primary data were collected through 27 semi-structured in-depth interviews. The grounded theory was used for thematic and network analyzes, which traced the drivers and barriers, as well as the impact of automation and reshoring.

Findings

Initially, automation decreases human interactions in any specific production section. However, it increases productivity, quality and cost advantages, which invoke growth and further employment in clothing firms. The employment of unskilled workers decreases in the long run when automation is well adopted in the system. Automation does not stimulate reshoring but may support relocation initiatives of production sites around the centers of global value chains (GVCs). This GVC-based relocation may create job displacement in apparel manufacturing nations in Asia while bringing employment opportunities to Sub-Saharan African countries, Europe and North America.

Originality/value

Little empirical research has been conducted on the impact of automation on the apparel industry. This study predicts that human interventions will dominate the sewing of fashionable and sophisticated apparel products while automation may replace many human workers for basic garment items in the foreseeable future.

Keywords

Citation

Hoque, M.A., Rasiah, R., Furuoka, F. and Kumar, S. (2022), "Linkages among automation, job displacement and reshoring: evidence from the Bangladeshi apparel industry", Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 515-531. https://doi.org/10.1108/RJTA-04-2021-0044

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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