Monthly Archives: November 2015

Early Career Workshop – University of Manchester, 05th-06th May 2016

Supported by Brown International Advanced Research Institute Alumni Research Initiative (Brown University) & the Global Development Institute (University of Manchester)

Research on global production networks (GPNs) and related global value chains (GVCs) has helped progress beyond nation state-centric accounts of trade to look at the roles played by specific actors, governance relationships and implications for upgrading/ downgrading producers’ development prospects. This rapidly growing body of research initially took quite a firm-centric and economic approach to understanding development (Coe and Hess, 2010). In recent years, however, considerable progress has begun to be made in moving beyond such approaches to research on GPNs by incorporating labour (e.g. Barrientos et al., 2011; Coe and Hess, 2013; Locke, 2013, Berliner et al. 2015, Newsome et al. 2015). In particular, this body of work has explored the possibilities for social upgrading in GPNs, understood as improvements for workers (e.g. regular employment, better rights and protection for workers) (Milberg & Winkler, 2011; Selwyn, 2012; Barrientos et al. 2011).

Thus far, labour has been the dominant focus of research on social upgrading in the context of GPNs. However, we would like to move forward these debates by exploring labour as one among a number of crucial social issues necessary to understand globalisation and its development consequences. For example, GPNs can also have important implications for the environment (e.g. De Marchi et al. 2013), health and justice, along with emerging debates around what is sometimes referred to as ‘modern slavery’, all of which are creating distinct challenges for governance.

We are thus organising an early career, inter-disciplinary workshop that will seek to provide critical reflections on, and better understanding of, social upgrading within GPNs. The workshop is open to scholars from a wide range of disciplines, such as business, geography, international development, political science and sociology. Indicative topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • To what extent can workers benefit from participation in GPNs?
  • How can unfree labour be addressed in GPNs?
  • What do we know about gender in GPNs?
  • What are the possibilities and challenges for environmental upgrading in GPNs?
  • What are the implications of GPNs for health?
  • Methodologically, how do we study social upgrading in GPNs?
  • How do private codes and multi-stakeholder standards contribute to social upgrading?
  • What agency do public policymakers have to promote better social outcomes in GPNs?

We will seek to address some of these questions through a small and focused two-day workshop at the University of Manchester. The workshop will benefit from a keynote lecture, panel debate and discussion from a small number of invited senior scholars in the field. We aim that the best papers presented at this event will result in a publication output in the form of a journal special issue or edited volume.

This event is primarily targeted at early career researchers (post-fieldwork/in-write up phase PhD students to those within 4 years of PhD award). With the generous support of the Brown International Advanced Research Institute and Manchester’s Global Development Institute, there is no fee for participation in the workshop, while travel and accommodation expenses will be covered for some selected participants. Abstract acceptance will be competitive given the small size of the workshop.


DEADLINES: Abstract Submission: Friday 11th December 2015 (max 250 words) to Annika Surmeier (

Confirmation of accepted papers: Friday 08th January 2016

Full Paper Submission: Friday 15th April 2016 (max. 8,000 words excl. abstract, notes, references etc.)

QUERIES: to any of the organising committee.


Rory Horner (Global Development Institute, Manchester

Fabiola Mieres (Geography, Durham

Vivek Soundararajan (Birmingham Business School

Annika Surmeier (Human Geography, Marburg

Shamel Al Azmeh (International Development, LSE

Rachel Alexander (Global Development Institute, Manchester


Associated senior scholars:

Stephanie Barrientos (Global Development Institute, Manchester)

Martin Hess (Geography, Manchester)

Richard Locke (Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown)

Khalid Nadvi (Global Development Institute, Manchester)

Andrew Schrank (Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown)

Development@ Manchester

By Dr Rory Horner.

In a new article published via Territory, Politics, Governance, Rory Horner reviews emerging evidence of the growth of South-South trade and argues for the need to move beyond win-win notions from development cooperation to highlight the commercial realities and very uneven geographies and development outcomes associated with this new economic landscape. Rory has synthesised the article for us below.

The new geography of trade
More than a decade ago, UNCTAD declared that “a new geography of trade is emerging and reshaping the global economic landscape”. In 2012, a milestone was passed with the value of trade between developing countries (South-South trade) overtaking developing country exports to the global North.

Various indicators confirm this shifting geography as demonstrated in the below table. Claims such as those outlined in the UNDP’s The Rise of the South or the increasingly widespread notion of an “Africa Rising” are reflected in…

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Geography Directions

By Rory Horner, University of Manchester

The world economic, social and political map and consequent geographies of development are rapidly changing, as a result of such trends as the growing influence of rising powers and simultaneous forms of crisis in both global North and South.

Yet, among geographers, it can seem as if the study of development is often relatively separate to that of economic geography, which can be quite perplexing and challenging for postgraduate students and others keen to research at this interface.

In a recent paper in Area, I explore how this imbalance may be encountered and hopefully gradually overcome. Upon commencing my PhD research on India’s pharmaceutical industry, I initially focused on the economic characteristics of Indian pharmaceutical firms as emerging multinationals. However, I struggled to reconcile much of the conceptual work I was reading, initially in economic geography, with the empirical issues at hand.


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I am slow on the uptake with forms of online communication.

Since September 2015, I am now lucky enough to have a Hallsworth research fellowship from the University of Manchester (for this year’s round, click here and apply before 07th January 2016). Thus it seemed like a good time to make my research more available. While my fellowship actually started in September, I am only getting to this in November!

This blog and accompanying site is intended to provide more information about my research. I aim to provide updates from time to time about my work, interesting events, talks, publications and fieldwork etc.