Firms in Global Value Chains An Analysis of the Determinants and Effects of the Changing Location of International Production

University dissertation from Karlskrona : Blekinge Tekniska Högskola

Abstract: This thesis deals with the globalization of production, a salient feature of the modern economy. The development of international outsourcing as a widespread business practice and the simultaneous decrease in trade and transport costs have contributed to the growth of a phenomenon known as global value chains. The main aim of the thesis is to understand how global value chains alter the location of economic activity. The thesis also studies the extent of firms' participation in global value chains and its consequences for firm performance. The thesis consists of four papers studying the behavior of firms in global value chains. Paper 1 analyzes how production fragmentation influences the importing and exporting behavior of Swedish firms in the manufacturing sector. Paper 2 focuses on manufacturing firms in the ICT sector and analyzes the effect of global sourcing on firm performance. In Paper 3, the thesis examines deeper implications of global production by investigating whether exposure to trade raises firms' sensitivity to external shocks. The final paper in the thesis studies the location patterns of multinational firms and analyzes the effect of institutional distance on the number of multinational entries in developing countries. A number of patterns emerge from these studies. The first is that Swedish manufacturing firms increasingly participate in global value chains by sourcing production inputs from overseas to create products for local and foreign customers. As a result, global value chains help to alter the specialization patterns of manufacturing firms. The second finding is that firms reap benefits from global sourcing in the form of greater efficiency. However, global sourcing may also raise the responsiveness of firms to negative external shocks. The final key result points to a developing trend in the location of activity in which emerging market multinational firms are becoming significant sources of foreign direct investment flows and their investment patterns challenge existing theories of multinational location choice.