The well known debate ensued between free-trade (more competition, cheaper goods in U.S., growth in developing markets) and fair trade (only wealthy benefit, hollowing out of U.S. middle class, exploitive labor standards overseas). The debate heated up in political years (including 2012), when "outsourcing" became an especially a dirty word. But, in addition to dramatic economic growth in emerging markets, four recent trends have significantly modified this old off-shoring and out-sourcing schematic.
First, labor costs for many businesses may no longer be the critical or even primary factor in global location decisions. Wages are rising in many emerging markets due, in part, to increased demand, new labor laws, and greater worker voice. Wages are declining in developed markets like the U.S. where depressed economic conditions for workers have led to lower wage and benefit packages, especially for lower entry level workers, and often through negotiations with organized labor. New technology, such as robotics, and higher productivity have also lowered the price of labor as a percentage of total product or service costs. When labor cost differences are not as dramatic or important, other costs like materials, energy, transportation, currency, capital, government imposed costs (tariffs, regulation) -- which were always important -- may have as great (or greater) impact on the location as cheap workers.
Second, companies are retaining but modifying their global supply chains by selectively reversing the long-term trend of outsourcing. They are "making" important parts of the products or services rather than "buying" from third parties, as described recently by U.S. business people and journalists, Companies are recognizing that closely interrelating, even co-locating, research and development, design and marketing, manufacturing and assembly close to the markets served can lead to much faster response to market shifts and to much faster innovation. The old practice of designing at home and then manufacturing abroad can slow the pace of innovation and product change to a crawl. So companies are making complex trade-offs between "making" and "buying" -- and between the need to develop technology at connected global R&D centers and the need to apply it in a variety of local settings in a variety of ways.
Similarly, companies which were enamored of outsourcing key service functions like information technology to nations like India are discovering that these, too, are key to fast-paced innovation and should be "made" not "bought" -- bringing them back in-house, with corporate units integrated across the world under global/local management. The "de-verticalizing" outsourcing process - when a company sent many of its functions between raw materials and the finished product to third parties - is now being partially reversed with "re-verticalization." But, even with changes, global supply chains, even if owned more by the company and less by third parties, will remain critical.