Monthly Archives: August 2016

For the upcoming Development Studies Association (DSA) Annual Conference, together with my colleague Matthew Alford, I’m organising two sessions on “Global production networks and the politics and policies of development”. With global value chains and production networks constituting the backbone of the global economy, the sessions aim to explore the economic, social and environmental challenges of GPNs and their developmental policy ramifications.

In particular, the sessions aim to provide critical reflections on the policies and politics of GPNs and GVCs, to reflect on attempts at understanding better, and engaging more effectively in, promoting positive local outcomes from global production.

The sessions (P61 in the conference programme) will take place in Room 15, The Examination Schools at the University of Oxford on Wednesday 14th September 2016 from 09:00-10:30 and from 10:30-12:00. Please join us if you are in Oxford!

The full line up of presenters, papers and abstracts is below:


Session 1: 09:00-10:30 – The state and industrial policy in GPNs


The politics of state governance in global production networks: insights from the South African fruit crisis – Matthew Alford (University of Manchester) and Nicola Phillips (University of Sheffield) – The role of the state in the governance of global production networks is under-explored. Far from being passive actors, states actively adopt different kinds of governance functions. We highlight tensions within public governance and explore the politics of those tensions in South African fruit.


Should GVC policies target locally-owned firms? A tale of two sectors from Malaysia – Yee Siong Tong (University of Cambridge) and Vasiliki Mavroeidi (University of Cambridge) – The debate over state intervention for GVCs rarely addresses whether policies should target locally-owned firms. A study on Malaysia’s upgrading performance, which finds capability gaps between locally-owned firms from E&E and palm oil sectors due to different sectoral policies, holds some answers.


Upgrading in South-South Global Value Chains: How participation in different trade-trajectories affect suppliers in the Kenyan leather sector – Giovanni Pasquali (University of Oxford) – This study looks at a value chain that is experiencing a process of “globalisation” in multiple trajectories (north; south; region) to assess whether and how different end markets affect local suppliers’ capacity to upgrade both economically as well as in terms of functions, products and processes.


Global decisions and local realities: the politics and policies of upgrading and their implications in agricultural global production networks – Judith Krauss (University of Manchester) and Aarti Krishnan (University of Manchester) – This paper argues that global and particularly Northern policy and politics shaping certification choices affect the local realities of Southern producers, drawing on two-case studies in agricultural global production networks involving fresh fruit and vegetables in Kenya and cocoa in Nicaragua.


Session 2: 11:00-12:30 – The politics of labour and sustainability in GPNs


Virtual Production Networks: Fixing Commodification and Disembeddedness – Alex Wood (University of Oxford), Isis Amelie Hjorth (University of Oxford) and Mark Graham (University of Oxford) – Online outsourcing platforms organize, commodify and disembed labor in an extreme and distinctive manner. Although virtual production is disembedded they are not immaterial or ethereal. We argue spatio-temporal fixes provide a useful alternative to the existing GPN use of embeddedness.


Labour control and the labour question in commodity chains: exploitation and disciplining in Senegalese export horticulture – Elena Baglioni (Queen Mary University of London) – This article examines the historical evolution of local labour control regimes upstream the Senegalese-European horticultural commodity chain. It shows that labour control emerges from the combined pressures of foreign firms, international institutions, the state, and households.


Putting the Public back into Private Governance – The Importance of Public Policy for Labour Standards in Apparel and Footwear Global Production Networks – Judith Stroehle (University of Milan) – An effort of incorporating the importance of public governance into the debate on efficacy of private labor governance, examining different levels of public governance and interaction through the use of quantitative and qualitative methods.


CSR standards in China: Social upgrading and industrial policy goals in GPNs – Corinna Braun-Munzinger (University of Manchester) – This paper argues that the emergence of Chinese CSR standards needs to be seen in the wider context of China’s changing industrial policy objectives in GPNs. It shows how the evolution of Chinese CSR standards corresponds to a shift from structural strategic coupling towards functional coupling.