Make at home or abroad? Manufacturing reshoring through a GPN lens: A Norwegian case study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The explorative paper investigates the drivers for the emerging trend of manufacturing reshoring from low- to high-cost locations. To date research on the reshoring phenomenon has been dominated by micro-level analyses of firms in supply chain management and reported in international business literature. The paper introduces reshoring as a research topic to the economic geography research field, arguing that it connects with the broader topic of regional development. To provide a better understanding of the reshoring phenomenon and to test the applicability of the global production network (GPN) framework in the analysis of the phenomenon, the authors analyse the reshoring of nine of Norwegian manufacturing firms. With the multiscalar lens provided by the GPN framework, the authors find that the implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies is a driver for manufacturing reshoring, but only when matched with key regional assets such as automation knowledge and competence, key human capital, and region-specific manufacturing competence. Additionally, reshoring decisions are influenced by extra-regional factors such as changes in the global economy and market fluctuations. Furthermore, the paper provides a refined conceptualization of strategic coupling processes by including acts of disinvestments and reinvestments performed by actors within global production networks. Accordingly, the authors advocate a more nuanced understanding, defined as partial coupling processes, in contrast to the predominant understanding of coupling processes as ruptures. This refined conceptualization provides enhanced analytical purchase when studying the reshoring phenomenon, as it illuminates the complexity of firms’ production and sourcing strategies and the resulting implications for the economic landscape.