Publication Details

Gibson, C. & Warren, A. (2016). Resource-sensitive global production networks: reconfigured geographies of timber and acoustic guitar manufacturing. Economic Geography, 92 (4), 430-454.


This article examines how resource materiality, scarcity, and evolving international environmental regulation shape global production networks (GPNs). Nature-facing elements, including resource scarcity and environmental regulation, have seldom featured in GPN analysis. So, too, GPN analysis emphasizes spatial relations between network actors over temporal change. We extend GPN theorization through a temporal analysis of industrial change, connecting manufacturing to upstream resource materialities and shifting regulation, and to downstream consumers increasingly concerned with provenance and material stewardship. To illustrate, we document a resource-sensitive GPN-acoustic guitar manufacturing-where scarcity of select raw materials (tonewoods) with material qualities of resonance, strength, and beauty, as well as tighter regulation, has spawned shifting economic geographies of new actors who influence the whole GPN. Such actors include specialist extraction firms, salvagers, traders, verification consultants, and customs agents who innovate in procurement and raw material supply risk management. Traditional large guitar manufacturing firms have struggled with regulation and securing consistent resource supply, although smaller lead manufacturing firms have creatively responded via novel procurement methods and marketing, developing closely bound, iterative relationships with specialist timber harvesters, traders, and with emotionally attached consumers. A cohort of tonewood supply firms and guitar manufacturers-especially in Australia, the Pacific Northwest and Canada, key locations of both resource and design expertise-have together altered material stewardship practices and commodity production. Niche strategies derive exchange value from rarity and resource innovation, embracing raw material variability, inconsistent supply, and the need for alternatives. How firms adapt to resource supply security risks, we argue, is an imperative question for GPN analysis.



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