Balancing supply chain competitiveness and robustness through "virtual dual sourcing": Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake

Takahiro Fujimoto*, Young Won Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


In view of the unprecedented devastation of the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE), the psychological overreaction tends to emphasize the safety aspects at the expense of the basic principle of designing industrial supply chains that achieve competitiveness and robustness simultaneously. Manufacturing firms must identify the "weak links" in their supply chains in terms of dependence, visibility, substitutability and portability. The objectives of this paper are (1) to critically evaluate proposed changes to damaged supply chains such as adding inventory, adopting standardized parts, physically duplicating line production and equipment, and evacuating whole facilities; (2) to propose "virtual dual sourcing", in which the firm facing supply chain disruptions caused by a disaster carefully choose either to quickly recover a damaged line or transfer critical design information to a substitute line. Effective implementation of the virtual dual solution will require simultaneously enhancing the design information's portability, the supplier's visibility, and the firm's capabilities at process recovery and production substitution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-436
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Issue numberPART B
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Competitiveness
  • Design portability
  • Robustness
  • Supply chain disruption
  • The Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE)
  • Virtual dual sourcing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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