Breaking up the Global Value Chain: Volume 30
Opportunities and Consequences
Table of contents(16 chapters)
Ownership and location decisions are at the core of the development of multinational enterprises (MNEs) as they deeply impact the creation and appropriation of value in global value chains. Such decisions have been treated by extant literature mostly as oppositions characterized by trade-off alternatives, such as internalization versus externalization and domestic versus offshoring. In this chapter, we discuss the development of a multinational company, that is, De’Longhi, as it has adjusted both ownership and location choices several times over the last 15 years. The case shows that in growing firms, such as De’Longhi, ownership and location decisions are interrelated among each other and with several factors including: interdependences between value chain activities, corporate strategy, organizational culture and the time horizon of the above choices.
In recent years, we can observe the emergence of firms, born both digital and global, that have disrupted existing industries. Deploying digital technologies, they have developed innovative value chains and business models that threaten established multinational companies (MNCs). In this chapter, we examine how MNCs can and do respond to the challenge digital technologies represent. We describe the main facets of digital technologies and discus the potential these have to undermine the value chains and business models of established MNCs. In order to illustrate this, we employ longitudinal data from Telenor, a leading multinational mobile telecom company. Telenor perceives digitalization as a critical threat that in turn is causing a radical rethink about the viability of its decentralized, locally responsive value chain and business model. Our data provides insights into business models in-the-making at the top management level. We argue that the case of Telenor is generalizable to multi-domestic MNCs across a range of industries.
This chapter examines the oil and gas industry and the efficacy of vertical integration strategies. Using multiple theoretical lenses ranging from the resource-based view, transactions costs, and parenting perspective, the chapter considers different arguments associated with vertical integration. The 2011 breakup of ConocoPhillips and its global value chain helps address the question of which strategy is best – integrated or nonintegrated. We provide several conclusions about the structure of integration and value chains within the oil and gas industry. First, vertical integration based on the physical transfer of products between value chain activities will generate little firm advantage in the form of classical integration benefits, such as control over input quality or speed to market. Second, competing across the industry value chain as a hedge or strategy against industry cyclicality is not theoretically defensible. Third, pure play industry specialists can create value through management focus, agility, and, transparency for investors. Fourth, firms that compete across a wide range of industry value chain activities can create value-adding corporate strategies if they are able to leverage knowledge and assets across different industry sectors.
Past research suggests that a financial crisis event has a dual and ambiguous effect on the exporting strategy of subsidiaries of multinational firms in a value chain and offshoring perspective. From a total volume perspective exports are expected to contract due to a decline in demand (demand shock) from other subsidiaries downstream in the value chain. While in a comparative perspective multinational subsidiaries are found to perform relatively better than local firms that are integrated differently (arms’ length) in global production networks (e.g., offshoring outsourcing). This chapter tries to reconcile these findings by testing a number of hypothesis about global integration strategies in the context of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and how it affected exporting among multinational subsidiaries operating out of Turkey. Controlling for the impact that exchange rate depreciations and volatility has on firm-level exports the study shows that the particular global event studied had no additional impact on individual firms’ exports. Since multinational subsidiaries are more insulated from these effects they are able to expand rather than contract their global integration strategies throughout the course of the GFC.
Companies must adapt their strategies to changing market conditions. Global supply strategies have become the source of competitive advantage over the last several decades, particularly in the manufacturing industry, as US firms offshored manufacturing operations to low-cost locations such as China. The rationale was based on cost savings and other location opportunities. In the quest for a cost advantage, many firms departed from conventional outsourcing wisdom and began offshoring higher value and specialized activities such as engineering, design, testing, and research and development. As market conditions changed and cost advantages eroded, firms who offshored high value activities discovered strategic costs and unintended consequences. The extent of the challenges became more apparent as US firms began reshoring manufacturing to reposition in rapidly changing market conditions. The purpose of this research is to provide insight into the decision making process of offshoring and reshoring, to introduce a new concept to understand progressive offshoring, and to build supply chain knowledge by establishing a theoretical understanding for reshoring and strategic costs.
Backshoring keeps gaining popularity with consultancies, politicians and businesses alike, yet academic research lags behind this seemingly increasing practice. Through a narrative, critical overview of literature the paper demonstrates incipient nature of backshoring research and identifies international business and economic geography as most relevant disciplines in furthering the understanding of the phenomenon and its managerial, policy and developmental significance.
The number of firms which backshored some or all of their activities from locations abroad appears to be growing, however due to unavailability of reliable data it is difficult to accurately assess how common backshoring is. There is a problem even with estimating the scale of the phenomenon which stems from the fact that the concept remains to be ill-defined. Consequently, current research is dominated by contradicting observations disallowing meaningful conclusion. However it is such shortcomings which arguably offer an unmissable opportunity for theory testing and development, and contribution to managerial practice and policy design.
This chapter is motivated by a surprising empirical finding: During the 2008 economic crisis, leading global buyers of labor-intensive manufacturing goods were more likely to terminate contracts with suppliers based in countries with strong formal contract enforcement institutions than with those in countries where such institutions were weak. We develop a formal model that explains this counterintuitive finding as the result of heightened reliance on informal contracting when the formal contracting system is unreliable. This explanation contrasts with recent characterizations of outsourcing as an exercise of real options and adds to understanding of the effect of using relational contracting across multiple borders.
This chapter develops a multi-path theory of diversified international expansion that explains how multiple wave-shaped performance curves are created as multinational companies expand into increasingly distant and dissimilar countries. According to this theory, multinational mobile network operators (MNOs) recover from over-diversified expansion by improving their local adaptation strategies by means of reconfiguring the value chain and entering local partnerships, by improving their global replication capabilities or by concentrating expansion to clusters of similar country markets. Three dynamic propositions are developed and exemplified concerning MNOs’ diversified international expansion. Implications for international diversification research finalize the chapter.
Consequences of Fragmenting
Many manufacturing firms (e.g. Apple and Nike) now outsource some or all of their manufacturing activities to independent suppliers rather than continuing to undertake them in-house. Clearly these firms perceive this externalisation of production to be a performance-enhancing strategy, but what are the performance consequences in practice? In this chapter, we review and critique the extant academic literature on the performance consequences of manufacturing outsourcing, and note that the empirical findings have yielded mixed results. We argue that outsourcing has potential impacts upon a number of ‘performance’ outcomes, including inter alia financial performance, productivity/efficiency, sales/market share, costs of production, business performance and innovation. We further argue that many of the empirical studies have flawed designs, and make a series of methodological recommendations to guide future empirical work.
Global businesses base their sourcing operations and manufacturing decisions primarily on financial principles and metrics. What is often disregarded is the strategic value of domestic locations and contextual tacit knowledge. However, recent empirical work on knowledge flows shows that proximity is crucial. The risk of losing knowledge and important competencies developed through generations within companies and value chains needs to be considered when developing a global sourcing strategy. This chapter sheds light on how global shift-backs, through backshoring are seen to affect organizations that are located in a high-cost country. Based on interviews with managers and key personnel within a specific industry, we explore how companies preserve innovative capabilities when considering closing down (captive) offshore centers or when embarking on a backshoring strategy. The implications derived from the case offers valuable insights into how organizational capabilities could be restored when companies bring manufacturing back.
Defined as local manufacturing systems, industrial districts have been recognized as particularly important for the location of firms’ manufacturing activities intertwined with innovation processes. The debate on the internationalization of production has stressed the low value related to manufacturing within value chain activities (smile framework), emphasizing the need to focus on high value-added activities (R&D or marketing). Following multinational enterprises’ internationalization strategies, also district firms have progressively offshored their production phases in the past years. However, recent studies focused on backshoring have revamped the attention on the domestic control of production for firms’ competitiveness. This chapter explores district firms’ location choices for manufacturing activities between local and global. Based on an empirical analysis of about 260 Italian district firms specialized in mechanics, furniture, and fashion and supported by a case study investigation, our results show that despite district internationalization processes, a non-negligible amount of firms still carry out – in-house or through outsourcing – production activities at district level. Larger firms couple district production and long-term upstream outsourced internationalization activities. The district system confirms its role of pooling specialized competences and product know-how, being decisive for firms’ innovation and responsiveness to national and international markets. Backshoring, instead, is a very limited phenomenon and linked to upgrading strategies.
This study examines how foreign R&D investment may explain interfirm variations in productivity performance of home country firms in terms of spillovers. Many have studied spillovers from MNCs to host country’s firms, but there is still scarce evidence on spillovers from outward FDI to the home country. This study analyzes spillovers from foreign R&D investment and hypothesizes that the benefit of outward R&D spillovers occurs only when knowledge accumulated in foreign R&D centers is effectively transferred to MNCs’ parent companies at home. This benefit depends on the mandate of foreign R&D units, their embeddedness in the host economy, and their entry mode. Using detailed firm-level data for Switzerland, our findings seem to support our arguments.
Advancing the ability of emerging market small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to learn, absorb new technologies, and grow is one of the greatest challenges in economic development and to theories of knowledge transfer. This chapter analyzes the mechanisms that can facilitate or impede the participation of Latin American SMEs in global value chains (GVCs), and in turn improve their capabilities and productivity. We attempt to shift the focus of attention that scholars and policy-makers have toward the types of knowledge and network linkages that emerging market SMEs need to sustainably benefit from GVCs. By drawing on recent work from the knowledge theory of the firm, development, and network dynamics, we call into question a core assumption about the necessary benefits that can accrue to SMEs by being tied more closely to sources of pioneering technologies. We argue instead that in order to overcome legacies of resource constraints and technology gaps, these SMEs need access to a variety of applied and experiential knowledge that help them transform their existing organizational capabilities into ones that enable them to implement basic international process and product standards, in turn allowing them to learn from potentially fruitful relationships in GVCs. Because of the way such knowledge is created, through intense interactions and exchanges of tacit knowledge, access is constrained. With a focus on the need for broad based upgrading of SME capabilities, we further suggest that particular constellations of interorganizational networks and public-private institutions, often overlooked in IB research, are best suited to facilitate such access.
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- Advances in International Management
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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