Global supply chains after COVID-19: the end of the road for neoliberal globalisation?

06 April 2021

Purpose: Through its impact on both demand and supply, the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has profoundly disrupted supply chains throughout the world. The purpose of this paper is to explore the underlying drivers of the supply chain vulnerability exposed by COVID-19 and considers potential future directions for global supply. Design/methodology/approach: This paper adopts a case study approach, reviewing the automotive manufacturing sector in Australia to illustrate how neoliberal globalisation policy settings have shifted large tracts of manufacturing from the global north to the global south. Findings: The authors demonstrate the way that neoliberal globalisation policies, facilitated by certain accounting rhetorics and technologies, have consolidated manufacturing in China and Southeast Asia in ways that embed vulnerabilities in global supply chains. The authors present three scenarios for post-COVID-19 supply chains and the accounting techniques likely to garner stronger attention as a result of the pandemic. Research limitations/implications: The paper illustrates how certain accounting rhetorics and technologies facilitate neoliberal globalisation, embedding supply chain vulnerability that has been exposed by COVID-19. It also suggests how supply chain accounting may develop more robust supply chains in a post-COVID-19 world and sets out an agenda for future research in this area. Practical implications: A number of practical supply chain accounting and planning technologies are suggested to facilitate more robust supply chains. Originality/value: This paper draws attention to the neoliberal globalisation policies that have shaped global supply chains as well as how COVID-19, in concert with other geopolitical trajectories, may represent a watershed moment for global supply chains.