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Global competition in mature industries. Upgrading through manufacturing


  • Giulio Buciuni

    () (Dip. di Economia Aziendale, Università di Verona and visiting scholar CGGC Duke University)

  • Giancarlo Corò

    () (Dipartimento di Economia, Università Ca' Foscari, Venezia)

  • Stefano Micelli

    () (Dipartimento di Management, Università Ca’Foscari, Venezia)


Manufacturing industries in developed countries have been experiencing profound changes over the last decade. Production of inputs and commodity goods has been increasingly outsourced to emerging countries’ low-wage suppliers, thus nurturing an unprecedented process of ‘global shifts’. Departing from the acknowledgment of this fast-changing scenario, we raised the question of whether operation can still play a role in the economic development of Western industries. While industrial statistics confirmed that the production of standardized products has been largely relocated overseas, the development of a number of case studies in the North Carolina’s and Northeast Italy’s furniture industry outlined that the manufacture of sophisticated, customized goods keeps its roots locally. By using the global value chains (GVCs) approach, we found that in-house or in-cluster control over sourcing and operations represent a strategic activity in the process of product upgrading. Accordingly, we claim that manufacturing can still play a central role in mature industries and pave the path for a next pattern of sustainable development in Western economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Giulio Buciuni & Giancarlo Corò & Stefano Micelli, 2012. "Global competition in mature industries. Upgrading through manufacturing," Working Papers 1214, c.MET-05 - Centro Interuniversitario di Economia Applicata alle Politiche per L'industria, lo Sviluppo locale e l'Internazionalizzazione.
  • Handle: RePEc:cme:wpaper:1214

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert C. Feenstra, 1998. "Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    2. Gibbon, Peter, 2001. "Upgrading Primary Production: A Global Commodity Chain Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 345-363, February.
    3. Jason Dedrick & Kenneth L. Kraemer & Greg Linden, 2010. "Who profits from innovation in global value chains? A study of the iPod and notebook PCs," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 81-116, February.
    4. Nicole E Coviello, 2006. "The network dynamics of international new ventures," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 37(5), pages 713-731, September.
    5. Farok J. Contractor & Vikas Kumar & Sumit K. Kundu & Torben Pedersen, 2010. "Reconceptualizing the Firm in a World of Outsourcing and Offshoring: The Organizational and Geographical Relocation of High-Value Company Functions," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(s2), pages 1417-1433, December.
    6. Brusco, Sebastiano, 1982. "The Emilian Model: Productive Decentralisation and Social Integration," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 167-184, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giulio Buciuni & Lapo Mola, 2014. "How do entrepreneurial firms establish cross-border relationships? A global value chain perspective," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 67-84, March.

    More about this item


    global value chains (GVCs); upgrading; Western industries; manufacturing;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L68 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Appliances; Furniture; Other Consumer Durables

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