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The Geography of Global Supply Chains: Evidence from Third-Party Logistics



Global supply chains have a distinct geography that involves the dimensions of production, distribution and consumption. This geography, at the heart of many sourcing strategies, is often neglected by supply chain managers, or at least scholars investigating supply chain management. However, this essay underlines that this geography reveals patterns that depict well the organization and structure of outsourcing with distribution systems supporting the dichotomy between the geography of production and consumption. Significant segments of supply chain management exist solely to support this spatial divergence. Global processes are also reflected in regional structures and the case of third party logistics providers is investigated. Depending on the gateway and the type of supply chain being serviced, North American 3PLs display a clustering that is particularly prevalent around airport terminals and crossborder ports of entry. Such firms are highly flexible and changes in the locational behavior are likely to reflect changes in outsourcing and supply chain management.