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Reshoring, a trend in Sweden?: A qualitative study among Swedish manufacturing firms.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Offshoring and outsourcing have the last decades occurred as a trend in the manufacturing industry, where many companies have moved to low-cost countries. Several motives can explain this, such as access to cost-effective advantages, closeness to market, and/or to access markets to mention a few. In the last years, a reshoring phenomenon has been observed where companies have moved back activities to its home country, mainly in America. However, few studies have been made of the reshoring phenomenon and we experience a research gap in Sweden. Our thesis will therefore seek to answer the following question: “How is the attitude among manufacturing firms in Sweden to change their strategies from offshoring and outsourcing to reshoring?”

With a qualitative approach, we want to create a deeper understanding of a possible reshoring trend in Sweden, and factors/events that can affect or explain such decisions. The data collection consists of semi-structured interviews with seven larger Swedish manufacturing firms. The interviews were executed with higher managers with knowledge, insight and experience of offshoring and outsourcing. The study is structured to analyse the motive behind the original decisions to move out activities, problematic issues and risks with foreign activities, and future plans of the foreign activities for each firm. This, in order to connect to a possibly reshoring trend. The purpose of the research is to create a holistic picture and we have been inspired of a hermeneutic viewpoint, where we have analysed the research problem from different aspects to create a deep understanding of a possible reshoring trend. The study's conclusions rest on our deductive approach that aimed to connect theory with the collected interview material.

The results show that there are several key factors for the current strategies of the firms: closeness to market and customers, costs and concentration factor. These factors are also the main explanation for a non-visibly reshoring trend among Swedish manufacturing firms. Economically some activities are unfeasible to move back home due to closeness to markets and customers in foreign markets, where transportation costs and lead-times are controlling factors. The study also indicates that Sweden lack competitiveness in areas of efficiency and technological products compared to foreign countries. However the empirical data show that most firms though try to protect their activities in Sweden as long as they are cost effective, and that many firms would like to buy closer to home if would exist competitive alternatives. Furthermore, we see a bigger potential in a future reshoring trend among outsourced activities, than offshore activities. Finally, the study also demonstrates differences from previous studies conducted on reshoring.

The main conclusion is that a reshoring trend is not present among the respondents and that the main key controlling variables behind these are: cost-effectiveness, closeness to market and customer, and to focus on core competences. The motives behind the firm decision to offshore activities was of strategically and long-term importance, that still are needed, and will be as long as they want to serve the foreign markets. We also found opportunities for reshoring activities to possibly take place in the future, if certain conditions can be achieved, improved or implemented. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 115 p.
Keyword [en]
Reshoring, manufacturing, production strategies
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-90658OAI: diva2:729767
External cooperation
Educational program
International Business Program
Available from: 2014-06-26 Created: 2014-06-26 Last updated: 2014-06-26Bibliographically approved

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