The purpose of this study is to delineate key aspects of backshoring readiness and discuss how such aspects contribute to a smooth shift-back from global sourcing operations. It aims to answer the following questions: which factors constitute backshoring readiness and how these factors affect the backshoring transition.
Based on theory departure from the organizational readiness field and the emerging field on backshoring, a conceptual model is developed. A multiple qualitative case study is then conducted to exemplify the backshoring readiness factors delineated in the study.
The study indicates that due to previous outsourcing, limitations concerning the availability of firms’ capabilities are affected by ownership structures and that backshoring appears to be time-sensitive. The study delineates three key aspects of backshoring readiness and proposes a comprehensive understanding of readiness as an important construct to enhance successful backshoring.
The findings are limited by the nature of this conceptual study, the restriction to a high-cost context and the small number of cases. Therefore, conclusions and proposed recommendations need to be further investigated in preferably larger samples of case studies.
By introducing contextual variables that go beyond traditional cost considerations, this work should be of special interest for both practitioners and academics, because the absorptive capacity for the exploitation of cutting-edge knowledge is globally scarce and hence rather expensive in Western countries compared with traditionally low-cost countries. Another practical contribution of this study is the conceptual backshoring readiness framework itself, as it can guide firms acquainting themselves with the resource availability in their home environment.
The research defines key resources needed to facilitate backshoring readiness in a conceptual framework developed from literature, which is then exemplified by a case study. This framework conceptualizes backshoring readiness as aspects of requirements to knowledge, technology and supplier infrastructures. Furthermore, the readiness framework developed provides firms and their managers with six recommendations that can enable a rigorous evaluation of a firm’s readiness to embark on backshoring and reflect on the aspect of fitness of its current strategies.