An exploratory study of factors affecting the longevity of manufacturing operations offshore

Leslie G Eldenburg, Richard A. Price, Francisco J. Román

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Because of changes in tax regulations and increased political pressure, firms are reconsidering their practices of shifting manufacturing operations offshore to lower wage countries. Although outsourcing has been well researched, few studies examine managerial practices that influence offshore operations. We investigate the effects of choices regarding labor, suppliers, and outsourcing that influence firm longevity in the maquiladora industry in Mexico. We argue that firms are exposed to labor frictions, supply-chain constraints, and compliance and regulatory risks that if left unresolved can lead to plant closure attributable to labor or regulatory frictions and rising costs. We consider specific actions pursued by managers at maquiladora plants to mitigate the underlying constraints and then analyze factors that affect the likelihood of continuing operations, that is, the longevity of the plants. We find a positive relation between the likelihood of longevity in operations and the following plant characteristics: hourly wages, workforce stability, skill, and the decision to outsource regulatory compliance functions. We document a negative relation between longevity and total labor cost as a percent of total costs as well as using suppliers based in Mexico. We also find that high-tech plants have higher stability, pay higher wages, and experience greater longevity than low-tech plants. Overall, we identify key managerial choices that are related to longevity in offshoring production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Labor constraints
  • Labor costs
  • Manufacturing offshore
  • Transaction costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management

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