Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to transform the organisation of all the activities carried out by firms. The growing diffusion of these technologies is…
Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to transform the organisation of all the activities carried out by firms. The growing diffusion of these technologies is increasingly challenging multinational enterprises to reinvent their businesses. Accordingly, many scholars argue that AM may reduce countries’ participation in global value chains (GVCs) or, at least, affect GVCs’ geography, length and further developments. However, so far, the lack of available data on the real worldwide diffusion of these technologies has precluded the possibility to study this phenomenon from an empirical standpoint.
This study investigates AM technologies, with a particular focus on their possible impact on GVCs, in the framework of the current debate in international business. In order to examine this relationship and overcome the lack of adoption data, the authors identify a potential proxy of AM diffusion – that is, patenting activity. Coherently, the authors employ this proxy and a country-level measure of GVC participation (i.e., the Share of Re-Exported Inputs on Total Imported Inputs) to empirically investigate the role of AM in influencing countries’ participation to GVCs. This country-level analysis is focussed on three specific industries and the aggregate economy in 58 countries for the period 2000–2014.
The results show that AM decreases a country’s participation in GVCs, both at the country level and, in particular, in the sectors which are more likely to be affected by AM technologies. This evidence suggests that this phenomenon might be induced by a decreasing reliance on intermediates processed abroad, hence an increasing importance of domestic goods, manufactured via AM.