How do You Deal with External Uncertainties? Case Studies of a Cambodian Apparel Manufacturer and a U.S. Apparel Import Intermediary

Stacy Hyun-Nam Lee, Jung Ha-Brookshire

Abstract


This paper aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of two independent businesses’ daily struggles and hardships within the global apparel supply chain and to explore how these businesses respond to external uncertainties. Two key cases, a Cambodian apparel manufacturer and a U.S. apparel import intermediary, were analyzed based on two kinds of data sources: semi-structured in-depth interviews and news articles. This case study identified different events involving external uncertainties—such as decreasing profits, rising labor costs, inconsistent government policies, and suppliers’ social issues—faced by the study subjects. The results showed that in each case the companies took distinctly different paths to respond to external uncertainties and that their outlooks seemed to be dissimilar, in one case dire and in the other hopeful. Due to the exploratory nature of the research, this study had limitations. This study was designed with a case study approach that is time and context sensitive, so the results could not be generalized to the whole industry. However, given that apparel businesses operate in hyper-dynamic market environments, the findings on how businesses respond to external uncertainties may help other businesses that face similar levels of external uncertainties. This study reveals in-depth knowledge of firms’ daily struggles and strategy-shaping discussions within the global apparel supply chain.

Full Text: PDF