Development – whichever definition one might choose – is a moving target. This paper aims to investigate the contributions various chain and network approaches – namely the global commodity chain (GCC), global value chain (GVC) and global production networks (GPN) frameworks – can offer to investigate geographically uneven development. To this end, the paper draws on epistemological discussions in development studies and cognate social sciences and looks at development both as a historical process of the expansion of (capitalist) systems of production, circulation and consumption, and as processes of social intervention and the struggle for securing livelihoods. It concludes by supporting a hybrid development research agenda to which network approaches can substantially contribute.
Many argue that foreign direct investment can promote industrialisation when firms learn from global buyers and move into higher value activities in global production networks (GPNs). We find that global linkages may also trap domestic firms within lower value positions and thus problematise further opportunities for robust economic development. Through a study of Malaysian electronics, we argue that industrial upgrading is historically contingent upon the interactions between shifting GPN architectures and local institutional dynamics. This qualification suggests that, far from being a panacea, GPNs offer only windows of opportunity. If these are not grasped, GPNs can have negative impacts in the sense that they may begin to erode the possibilities for industrial upgrading in developing countries.
The transformations in the organisation of global production and international trade in the last three decades have had important implications for the development prospects of regions, firms and workers. Via a study of the Romanian apparel sector, the paper shows how global production networks are shaped and how they relate to processes of uneven development. The analysis builds on an adapted Global Production Network framework taking into account non-firm actors and (pre-)existing structures, as well as workers. The paper shows that integration into global production networks can also lead to downgrading and questions the conventional view that participating and even upgrading in global production networks is beneficial for workers.
The cocoa-chocolate value chain is undergoing rapid transformation. It is characterised by increased concentration amongst buyers, with fragmentation amongst producers (largely small-scale farmers in Africa). Commercial pressures are leading to downward prices and quality. However, greater consumer focus on quality, social and environmental sustainability facilitates higher premium prices in some market segments. This paper examines the changing dynamics of the cocoa-chocolate value chain and considers its effects on the development of the Ghanaian cocoa sector. The paper focuses on how the maintenance of a cocoa marketing board (COCOBOD) in Ghana has helped to maintain Ghanas position as a world producer of high quality cocoa, to negotiate with global buyers and to support small-scale producers. However, a rebalancing of power relations within the value chain is needed if the sustainability of the sector is to be secured.
Driven by soaring commodity prices, various low- and middle-income countries (LIC/MICs) once again press for world market integration in the extractive and metal industries. This strategy may assist, as well as hamper, the achievement of certain development objectives. Using the network-based Global Commodity Chains (GCC) approach, the analysis of the export oriented aluminium industry in Brazil demonstrates that net outcomes of world market integration in the extractive and metal industry depend mainly on two factors: firstly, on the structure of the particular commodity chain, especially the type of governance and the distribution of income, and secondly, on the ability of LIC/MICs governments to establish political and institutional frameworks that maximise the capture of value created (through ownership or tax revenues) while minimising social inequality and environmental degradation.
In recent years, nature- and activity-based forms of tourism have gained increasing importance. This is of great significance for many developing countries, as the scenery for this tourism is often found in peripheral regions. Yet, despite the importance of the tourist industry, not much is known about the way firms cooperate in special tourism value chains. Building upon several value chain concepts, we argue that an elaborated conceptualisation of power and power resources as well as the role of quality conventions merit deeper recognition. Concentrating on these two aspects, we then have a closer look at the Moroccan trekking tourism that serves as an example to reveal asymmetric dependencies and the importance of reputation as the central resource for power.