Over the past five years, use of the term “back-shoring” (and of its apparent synonyms) has multiplied dramatically, especially in economics journalism and in consulting firms’ white papers. More recently, the topic has prompted academic investigation too, despite the lack of reliable data. This paper aims to establish the importance of manufacturing back-shoring, especially in the wake of the financial crisis, and to promote research on this topic within the international business scientific community. To this end, we conducted an in-depth analysis of both the academic and the practitioner’s literature, and now propose an operational definition of back-shoring. Given the paucity of currently available data, we base the following discussion on the evidence provided by our inter-University research group database, which contains 230 operational observations on back-shoring activities enacted by manufacturers with a global sales profile. Furthermore, we focus on 50 operations implemented by Italian companies and compare them with analogous operations effected by German firms and already described in the literature. Our review of the literature analysis of readily available evidence clearly demonstrates that further multi-method and multi-disciplinary research is needed.
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