Global and Local Operations of Finnish Metal Industry Companies during COVID-19 and Trade Disruptions: A Case Study




Globalisation, Supply chain, Industry, COVID-19, Brexit, Trade wars, outsourcing, offshoring, reshoring


Purpose: Globally operating companies have been disrupted by many simultaneous crises in recent years, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and trade wars. This study identifies the key factors in companies’ decisions to expand their global supply chains or to operate more locally in today’s world.

Study design/methodology/approach: This article contains a literature review and empirical study. Representatives from three Finnish B2B manufacturing companies in the metal industry were interviewed about their international and local operations.

Findings: The key reasons for global operations included a large supplier base, component availability, lower costs, and specialised products. Typical problems included quality issues, long lead times, and communication challenges. Specific risks and mitigations around COVID-19, Brexit, and trade wars are also presented.

Originality/value: The study provides updated information on global and local operations. Unique reasons for global operations included manufacturing Engineer-to-Order (ETO) products close to the customer and changes in products.

Author Biographies

Pasi Rönkkö, University of Oulu

Pasi Rönkkö is a doctoral student in the research unit of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu. He has a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management and a bachelor’s degree in Logistics Engineering. His current research interests include supply chains, circular economy and industrial ecosystems. He has industrial experience in the logistics operations of several companies in the forest industry and retail.

Jere Lehtinen, University of Oulu

Jere Lehtinen is a M.Sc. (Tech.) in Industrial Engineering and Management. He has been working in procurement and logistics tasks at Nokia Corporation and he has also work experience of production work in international companies.

Jukka Majava, University of Oulu

Dr Jukka Majava is an associate professor at the University of Oulu. His industrial experience includes technology and ecosystem marketing, partner and project management and business and supply chain development at Nokia Corporation. He has research interests in operations and supply chain management, innovation management and business networks.

Pekka Tervonen, University of Oulu

Dr Pekka Tervonen is research director and adjunct professor at the University of Oulu. He has 20 years’ experience of managing positions in steel industry, mainly in business and operational excellence, innovation management and ESSQ management. He has research interest in system and co-operation-based management and innovation management.