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  April 17th, 2024 | Written by

Navigating the Global Supply Chain: Opportunities and Challenges for Middle Market Companies

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Amidst the interconnected web of global commerce, middle market companies are strategically leveraging international supply chains to enhance competitiveness, despite encountering both advantages and obstacles along the way.

A newly released research report, a collaborative effort between the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM) and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business, sheds light on the evolving landscape of global supply chain engagement among middle market firms.

Surveying 406 supply chain leaders from the middle market segment, the report unveils a robust presence of companies participating as buyers or sellers in global markets. Notably, 60% of respondents identified revenue growth as the top benefit for international sellers, while 72% of purchasers emphasized cost savings as the primary advantage of engaging in international supply chains.

The research also underscores the trend of expansion into new international markets, with one in five middle market companies venturing into foreign territories in 2023. Anticipating further growth, 45% of sellers and 37% of purchasers express intentions to expand their international supply chain footprint in 2024.

However, the journey into international supply chains is not without its challenges. Longer lead times emerged as a top concern for purchasers, while sellers grapple with quality control issues. Mitigating risks remains paramount, with insurance and diversified supplier bases being key strategies adopted by sellers and purchasers, respectively.

Despite these challenges, confidence in international supply chains remains high among middle market companies. Yet, a critical hurdle highlighted by the research is the shortage of domestic talent equipped with international supply chain expertise, emphasizing the need for language proficiency, cross-cultural awareness, and international competence among employees.

Professor Michael Knemeyer, a logistics expert and co-author of the report, emphasizes the necessity of investing in human capital to ensure the optimal functioning of international networks. Collaboration between academia and industry, as exemplified by the partnership between NCMM and Fisher’s CIBER, plays a pivotal role in addressing these challenges and promoting international business understanding and competitiveness.

The joint research underscores the significance of fostering a robust global supply chain ecosystem within the middle market segment, highlighting opportunities for growth and the imperative of overcoming operational hurdles to thrive in the interconnected global marketplace.

The research report can be found at