OM Forum — Benchmarking Global Production Sourcing Decisions: Where and Why Firms Offshore and Reshore

OM Forum — Benchmarking Global Production Sourcing Decisions: Where and Why Firms Offshore and Reshore

By
Morris Cohen, Shiliang Cui, Ricardo Ernst, Arnd Huchzermeier, Panos Kouvelis, Hau L. Lee, Hirofumi Matsuo, Marc Steuber, Andy Tsay
Manufacturing & Service Operations Management. May
8, 2018, Vol. 20, Issue 3, Pages 389-600

Problem definition: Manufacturing firms are undergoing restructuring defined by a collection of adjustments and decisions, which affect the source and destination of manufactured products throughout the firm’s global supply chain network. We report on a comprehensive picture of manufacturing sourcing on a global basis. Academic/practical relevance: With dynamic changes in global economic, political, and technological conditions, the design of global supply chain strategies has become critically important for executives and has great potential for operations management research. Methodology: Our work is based on a global field study conducted in 2014 and 2015 among leading manufacturers from a wide range of industries. The data set has the distinguishing feature of reflecting actual decisions that the firms made recently (during the last three years). Results: Companies are currently restructuring their global production footprints. The majority of firms engage in offshoring. Reshoring does occur but seldom for corrective reasons. China remains the most attractive site for production sourcing, followed by Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. Manufacturing continues to decline in the developed economies of Japan and Western Europe. We observe that while North America may be at the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance, such a change is not just because of reshoring by domestic firms. Labor cost no longer dominates manufacturing location decisions; rather, firms decide based on complex trade-offs among a variety of factors. Finally, firms localize production in developed economies and use developing economies as production hubs. Managerial implications: Our goal in this paper is to inform both managerial policy decisions and the academic research agenda by developing insights on managerial practices that concern production sourcing and on the factors that drive such decisions. We develop hypotheses concerning how firms make these strategy decisions, and we discuss implications for analytical and empirical research.