Making supply chains great again: Examining structural changes to US manufacturing supply chains

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Purpose: President Trump's tenure was accompanied by a series of protectionist measures that intended to reinvigorate US-based production and make manufacturing supply chains more “local”. Amidst these increasing institutional pressures to localise, and the business uncertainty that ensued, this study investigates the extent to which manufacturers reconfigured their supply bases.

Design/methodology/approach: Bloomberg's Supply Chain Function (SPLC) is used to manually extract data about the direct suppliers of 30 of the largest American manufacturers in terms of market capitalisation. Overall, the raw data comprise 20,100 quantified buyer–supplier relationships that span seven years (2014–2020). The supply base dimensions of spatial complexity, spend concentration and buyer dependence are operationalised by applying appropriate aggregation functions on the raw data. The final dataset is a firm-year panel that is analysed using a random effect (RE) modelling approach and the conditional means of the three dimensions are plotted over time.

Findings: Over the studied timeframe, American manufacturers progressively reduced the spatial complexity of their supply bases and concentrated their purchase spend to fewer suppliers. Contrary to the aims of governmental policies, American manufacturers increased their dependence on foreign suppliers and reduced their dependence on local ones.

Originality/value: The research provides insights into the dynamics of manufacturing supply chains as they adapt to shifting institutional demands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1108
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number5
Early online date22 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2024


  • Concentration
  • Consolidation
  • Dependence
  • Local sourcing
  • Supply chains
  • Trade policy

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