Exploration of onshore backsourcing for cases in the European and Australian apparel industry

Susanne Royer, Kerry Brown, John Burgess, Susanne Gretzinger

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The point of reference for this research is that global value chains are undergoing “a period of transformation” (Zhan, 2021, p. 207) that may lead to de-globalization (Madhok, 2021; Witt, Lewin, Li, & Gaur, 2023). This asks for new perspectives on value chain dynamics with relevance for policy makers and businesses managers.
Efficiency versus resilience of global value chains in the context of reshoring combined with backsourcing can be regarded as a relevant and current research topic (Pla-Barber, Villar, & Narula, 2021). This research sets the focus on re-configuration of production systems in regional or localized production chains emerging in the developed world. This links into the suggestion that global value chains will become more regionally-focused in the future (Zhan, 2021, p. 209).
Specifically, we want to explore cases of ‘onshore backsourcing’, understood as internalized activities that are reshored to the home country (Thakur-Wernz, 2019, p. 44). So far, however, the number of companies bringing back formerly outsourced activities into the own firm and also relocating them back to the home country, appears to be small (Raza, Grumiller, Grohs, Essletzbichler, & Pintar, 2021, pp. 26–27). Therefore, we are interested in illustrative cases of recent backsourcing and reshoring decisions of companies of European and
Australian origin. It seems to be important to come to differentiated results for different global value chains as well as different country contexts (Strange, 2022).
Studies dealing with backsourcing cover different industry contexts such as medical equipment (Gereffi, 2020), microchips (Raza et al., 2021, pp. 46–53), IT services (Bary & Westner, 2018; Bary, Westner, & Strahringer, 2020; Molleri, Lassenius, & Jørgensen, 2022), and fashion and footwear (Gadde & Jonsson, 2019; Martínez‐Mora & Merino, 2021; Merino, Di Stefano, & Fratocchi, 2021).
This study focuses on the apparel sector to illustrate how global value chains may start to adapt to the vulnerabilities caused by supply chain disruption, changing consumer preferences and sustainability challenges associated with such issues as ethically sourced inputs and production processes and the use of sustainable energy. The case exploration bases on examining processes
and implications of production system restructuring in the form of backsourcing and reshoring, i.e., of bringing back production activities previously outsourced and offshored within national borders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • apparel industry
  • back-sourcing
  • reshoring
  • sourcing
  • value chain

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