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    Geography of Production Linkages in the Irish and Scottish Microcomputer Industry: The Role of Logistics

    Van Egeraat, Chris and Jacobson, David (2005) Geography of Production Linkages in the Irish and Scottish Microcomputer Industry: The Role of Logistics. Economic Geography, 81 (3). pp. 283-303. ISSN 0013-0095

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    The economic crisis of the mid-1970s marked the transition from the traditional Fordist mode of industrial organization to one of time-based competition (TBC). It has been postulated that the rise of TBC will lead to an increase in local and regional production linkages. Part of the argument is that the associated search for logistical efficiency and the adoption of the just-in-time (JIT) principles will lead to closer buyer-supplier proximity. In this article, we test the relevance of this idea in a case study of the microcomputer hardware industry in Ireland and Scotland. Most of the data were collected during multiple interviews with subsidiaries of all global microcomputer assemblers with operations in one of the two countries. The study shows that rather than sourcing locally or regionally, the assemblers import the vast majority of their material inputs from regions outside Ireland and Britain, notably from the Far East, and that the inbound logistics pipelines of most components involve inventories, often hubbed in local warehouses. Such supply systems have been interpreted as pseudo-JIT, suboptimal inbound logistics systems that are organized on traditional Fordist principles. We argue that the logistics systems and the geography of the supply linkages should not be interpreted this way. Inbound inventories were tightly managed, leading to modest target buffer levels and high shipment frequencies. Even under JIT supply, the geographic configuration of production linkages and the details of logistics systems remain highly dependent on a range of contextual conditions and component characteristics. The findings of this study suggest that a strategy of building integrated vertical production clusters around subsidiaries of multinational enterprises is no longer suitable for Ireland and Scotland, at least not in the context of the microcomputer industry.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This research is supported in part by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Forfas. We would like to thank Dr. Nick Phelps for his input in the research and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments.
    Keywords: computer industry; production linkages; logistics;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > National Institute for Regional and Spatial analysis, NIRSA
    Item ID: 6121
    Depositing User: Dr. Chris Van Egeraat
    Date Deposited: 18 May 2015 15:40
    Journal or Publication Title: Economic Geography
    Publisher: Clark University
    Refereed: Yes
    Funders: Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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