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From global to local: reshoring for sustainability


  • Alison Ashby

    () (Plymouth University)


Abstract The UK clothing industry has seen the extensive offshoring of manufacturing, which has created fragmented global supply chains; these present a range of supply issues and challenges, including many related to sustainability. Reshoring is a reversion of a previous offshoring decision, thereby ‘bringing manufacturing back home’ (Gray et al. J Supply Chain Management 49(2):27–33, 2013), and can be motivated by increased costs and supply management problems. While not a new phenomenon, the reshoring of activities is growing in practice and there is an imperative for academic research (Fratocchi et al. J Purch Supply Manag 20:54–59, 2014). Through an in-depth longitudinal case study, this paper explores how sustainability can be addressed through reshoring; the studied UK-based clothing SME has strong principles and is explicitly committed to bringing its supply chain ‘home’. There is a recognised need for more OM research using a social lens (Burgess and Singh Oper Manag Res 5:57–68, 2012), so Social Network Theory (SNT) is employed to examine the reshoring decision-making process. SNT applies a relational, qualitative approach to understand the interactions between network actors, and focuses on the types and strengths of relationships and how they provide context for decisions (Galaskiewicz J Supply Chain Manag 47(1):4–8, 2011). The findings demonstrate the importance of socially complex, long-term relationships in managing a sustainable supply network. These relationships contribute to the resources that a firm can harness in its supply practices, and SNT extends this with its emphasis on the strength of ties with suppliers, and the trust, reciprocity and shared meanings it engenders. For the studied firm these advantages are derived through its localised supply chain, and collaborative supplier relationships, and its progressive reshoring of activities is integral to achieving its sustainability principles.

Suggested Citation

  • Alison Ashby, 2016. "From global to local: reshoring for sustainability," Operations Management Research, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 75-88, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:opmare:v:9:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s12063-016-0117-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s12063-016-0117-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arie Y Lewin & Silvia Massini & Carine Peeters, 2009. "Why are companies offshoring innovation? The emerging global race for talent," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 40(8), pages 1406-1406, October.
    2. Arie Lewin & Silvia Massini & Carine Peeters, 2008. "Why are companies offshoring innovation ?the emerging global race for talent," Working Papers CEB 08-009, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Peter Maskell & Torben Pedersen & Bent Petersen & Jens Dick-Nielsen, 2007. "Learning Paths to Offshore Outsourcing: From Cost Reduction to Knowledge Seeking," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 239-257.
    4. Gary Gereffi & Joonkoo Lee, 2016. "Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains and Industrial Clusters: Why Governance Matters," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 25-38, January.
    5. Gary Gereffi & Joonkoo Lee, 2016. "Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains and Industrial Clusters: Why Governance Matters," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 25-38, January.
    6. Gylling, Michael & Heikkilä, Jussi & Jussila, Kari & Saarinen, Markku, 2015. "Making decisions on offshore outsourcing and backshoring: A case study in the bicycle industry," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 92-100.
    7. Caniato, Federico & Golini, Ruggero & Kalchschmidt, Matteo, 2013. "The effect of global supply chain configuration on the relationship between supply chain improvement programs and performance," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(2), pages 285-293.
    8. Mascle, Christian & Zhao, Hong Ping, 2008. "Integrating environmental consciousness in product/process development based on life-cycle thinking," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 5-17, March.
    9. Rupert J. Baumgartner & Daniela Ebner, 2010. "Corporate sustainability strategies: sustainability profiles and maturity levels," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 76-89.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qing Cao & Dara G. Schniederjans & Marc Schniederjans, 0. "Establishing the use of cloud computing in supply chain management," Operations Management Research, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-17.
    2. repec:spr:opmare:v:10:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12063-017-0124-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:opmare:v:10:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s12063-017-0123-6 is not listed on IDEAS


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