Furnishing a Globalized World: Local Distinctiveness in the International Furniture Industry

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Advances in technology, communication, and transportation over the past thirty years have led to tighter linkages and enhanced collaboration across traditional borders between nations, institutions, and cultures. This thesis uses the furniture industry as a lens to examine the impacts of globalization on individual countries and companies as they interact on an international scale. Using global value chain analysis and international trade data, I break down the furniture production process and explore how countries have specialized in particular stages of production to differentiate themselves from competitors and maximize the benefits of global involvement. Through interviews with company representatives and evaluation of branding strategies such as advertisements, webpages, and partnerships, I investigate across four country cases how furniture companies construct strong brands in an effort to stand out as unique to consumers with access to products made around the globe. Branding often serves to highlight distinctiveness and associate companies with national identities, thus revealing that in today’s globalized and interconnected society, local differences and diversity are more significant than ever.


honors thesis; awarded highest honors; winner of ICS Distinguished Thesis Prize 2015




Schwartz, Alexandra (2015). Furnishing a Globalized World: Local Distinctiveness in the International Furniture Industry. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9729.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.