The world is small, until it isn't. Global supply chain challenges remind us of that every day.
“The world is a small place”: This phrase is used countless times, each and every day, all around the world. It’s in this spirit that leaders in both the public and private sectors have been chasing globalization over the years, . . . through progressive trade policies, innovative financial instruments, and complex global supply chains.
Those trends have been disrupted by a series of era-defining events: the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and multiple weather-driven disasters. Each serves to remind us of vulnerabilities in our critical supply chains and how those vulnerabilities can upend individual lives, US and global economies, and everything in between.
All the experts who we spoke with agree: much work remains to be done across sectors and partnerships to prepare the world for inevitable future shocks.
For American business, the long-standing priority of sourcing goods and services at the lowest cost is now being balanced against a sharper focus on trust, reliability, and responsibility. For governments, supply chain disruptions have jeopardized food and health security, economic growth rates, and a “shock free” energy future. For individual consumers, supply chain uncertainties are making it harder for some to find affordable choices in food, cars, medicines, and other products.
The fall 2022 issue of the Wilson Quarterly offers an overview of current supply chain thinking and also highlights streams of innovation that could help policymakers and trendsetters blaze a more optimistic trail during these unsettling, important times. Drawing on the impressive work of Wilson Center scholars and programs, and our deep network of journalists, policy analysts, and business leaders, we look ahead to the “what ifs,” and try to identify signposts to supply chain solutions.
Our commitment to bipartisan scholarship on this vital and complex topic is steadfast.
As Strong as Our Weakest Link: Strengthening Global Supply Chains in a Rapidly Changing World has both depth and breadth. Topics include:
A scene-setting introduction examining evolutions in supply chain values, and a primer on supply chain resiliency with MIT’s director of transportation and logistics.
From Latin America to North America to Asia and beyond, articles and essays contemplate economic, environmental, and geopolitical considerations for supply chains—including those for electric vehicles and their batteries.
The Wilson Center’s resident supply chain expert moderates a short but insightful discussion between a former US deputy undersecretary of commerce and the head of General Motors’ global public policy about why it’s so hard to get policies right.
A photo essay takes us to Montana and provides an intimate look at an American company that engineered its way out of supply chain challenges and is now bringing its innovations to other small businesses.
We go to Malawi to learn more about the complex challenges and solutions for reproductive health supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa; a veteran reporter examines whether the recently passed Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act will finally bring long-promised transparency to the fashion industry; and we assess the ever-complex global vaccine supply chain in the wake of COVID-19.
We explore reshoring, near-shoring, ally shoring, and other principles that are at the heart of current supply chain thinking seeking to create smarter policies.
While there has thankfully been some easing of the supply chain challenges we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, all the experts who we spoke with agree: much work remains to be done across sectors and partnerships to prepare the world for inevitable future shocks. The fall Wilson Quarterly is the latest collection of in-depth supply chain reports, analyses, and other content from the Wilson Center. Our commitment to bipartisan scholarship on this vital and complex topic is steadfast.
Ambassador Mark A. Green is the president & CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
Cover photo: 2020 Steeve Raye/Shutterstock.