A Special Issue to be published in the

Journal of International Business Policy


Paper Proposal Submission Deadline Date: September 1, 2019


Special Issue Co-Editors: 


Carlo Pietrobelli 

Universit¨¤ Roma Tre


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Roberta Rabellotti

Universit¨¤ di Pavia & University of Aalborg

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Ari Van Assche

HEC Montr¨¦al

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Special Issue description

The global value chain (GVC) framework has become an influential development
paradigm in policy circles. Since its academic inception 25 years ago, the
framework has been adopted by a wide range of governments and international
organizations, including the International Labor Organization, the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Bank and the World
Trade Organization (Gereffi, 2018). Both in developed and developing
countries, national policymakers have started taking into consideration GVCs
in their development strategies at country, regional and local level
(Taglioni & Winkler, 2016).

Depending on the field, global value chains are also known as ¡°global
factory¡± (Buckley, 2009), ¡°global production network¡± (Henderson et al.,
2002), or ¡°global commodity chain¡± (Gereffi, 1999). The appeal of the
framework lies in its premise that analyzing global industries can provide
profound insights into the development opportunities of firms, clusters,
regions and countries (Buckley, 2009; Gereffi et al., 2005). Complementary
to international business scholars¡¯ focus on the strategies of lead firms
(Buckley and Strange, 2015; Kano, 2018), GVC researchers suggest that global
lead firms have the corporate power to define the terms and conditions of
chain participation, thus affecting local suppliers and workers involved in
it. It is therefore relevant to analyze the conditions and policies under
which value chain participation puts suppliers and workers on dynamic
learning paths that may facilitate economic and social upgrading (Barrientos
et al., 2011).

There is a growing appreciation in the academic community that the new GVC
reality requires novel policy prescriptions. Gereffi (2013) advocates for
the adoption of GVC-oriented industrial policies that focus on the
development of fine-grained GVC activities and emphasize the importance of
leveraging international supply chain linkages. Van Assche (2017) argues
that policymakers should adopt a supply chain mindset in their international
business policy that focuses on allowing domestic firms to link rapidly,
efficiently and reliably with foreign value chain partners.

Having said that, these policy prescriptions have remained exceedingly
general. What specific policies could help firms, countries, regions and
clusters benefit from GVCs, and how, has been left implicit and hardly
tackled systematically in the literature or in policy practice. For example,
policies that are meant to attract GVCs (e.g., integrate firms into a value
chain) are very different from policies that are meant to capture the
possible but uncertain gains from GVC integration (Pietrobelli & Staritz,
2018; Lema, Rabellotti and Sampath, 2018; Lema, Pietrobelli and Rabellotti,

GVC-attraction policies may be needed when countries do not easily appeal to
global lead firms due to new-entry disadvantages, incomplete or asymmetric
information regarding potential suppliers¡¯ capacity and the business
context, or a lack of specific inputs and factors. This kind of policy
pertains to new ways of attracting foreign direct investments and new trade
policies, including methods of attracting foreign investors to fill gaps in
specific parts of the value chain (Blyde, Pietrobelli, & Volpe, 2014). Trade
policy also needs some rethinking in light of GVCs, as import tariffs on
intermediate goods may end up multiplying the actual tariff burden and
penalize exports (Miroudot et al., 2013; Van Assche, 2017). 

Value-capture policies are more related to the programs that aim to
strengthen and deepen innovation and production ecosystems by building
firm-level production and innovation capabilities that are necessary for
capturing such gains (Sako & Zylberberg, forthcoming). For example, a
GVC-oriented policy focused on learning could include innovation policies
(e.g., matching-grant programs) to support firms¡¯ innovation or
collaborative innovation involving firms and universities and other
research-oriented stakeholders, in a coherent way that is based on the
characteristics and requirements of the GVCs that are present in the
country/region/cluster (as well as those of the GVCS that could be entering
it). Other examples of such policies include targeted training programs (to
create the skills local firms need for their integration into and upgrading
within GVCs), and organizational investments to provide technology services
in the areas of standards, metrology, testing, and certification. 

Policies that are developed in the lead firm¡¯s home country may also have
diffusion effects along the chain (Meyer & Gereffi, 2010). Governmental
programs aimed at regulating global flows of goods, services, capital and
production factors, for example by introducing standards and requirements,
are likely to have an impact on the organization and governance of GVCs,
thus influencing the upgrading prospects of firms, clusters, regions and
countries around the world. This includes both the standards and rules set
by governments (rules of origin), as well as those set and enforced by
private and non-governmental organizations. 

On the empirical front, there is a dire need for more analysis that studies
the impact of GVC-oriented policies on firms¡¯ participation in GVCs, on
their ability to capture value, and on the economic and social implications
on their workers (Tokatli, 2012; Van Assche and Van Biesebroeck, 2018). To
date, most GVC research has focused on case studies and detailed industry
analysis, which have been useful for uncovering new trends and for theory
building. Future work will need to validate the policy propositions that
come forth from the GVC framework with quantitative analysis.

Finally, the field can benefit from more research on new trends in the
organization of global value chains and how they affect GVC-oriented policy
propositions. The McKinsey Global Institute (2019) has documented that GVCs
are becoming more regional and their expansion is less and less based on
labor arbitrage. Gereffi (2018) suggests that digitization and protectionism
are forcing global lead firms to adapt their global value chain governance.
A deep reflection is needed on how these trends require governments to
redesign their international business policies.

For this special issue, we encourage researchers from different fields (e.g.
international business, economic sociology, economic geography, innovation
studies, international economics, international political economy) to submit
their work on GVC-oriented policy. Papers can be either aimed at theory
development or empirical contributions (both quantitative analyses based on
large data samples and qualitative case studies). They can focus on
developing, emerging or developed countries. They can study the link between
policies and GVCs at various levels: firm, worker, cluster, region or

Papers for this Special Issue may address (among others) the following

*         Which policies can be used to attract GVCs and lead firms in

*         Should policymakers adopt push or pull strategies to integrate
their suppliers into GVCs?

*         What are the opportunities and pitfalls related to GVC-oriented
industrial policy? 

*         How do regulatory policies affect GVC functioning and inter-firm

*         Does the emergence of GVCs require policymakers to rethink trade
and FDI policy?

*         How useful are supplier development policies and programs for
sustainable economic and social development?

*         What is the impact of technology and innovation programs on local
suppliers¡¯ integration, upgrading and capacity to generate value added
within GVCs? 

*         Who are the policy actors that are best positioned for
implementing GVC policies and dealing with large multinationals, which
frequently are the GVC lead companies?

Timeline for submission and publication

*         September 1, 2019:  deadline for proposal submission via
Manuscript Central portal for JIBP ( <>

*         March 1, 2020: deadline for submission of full papers

*         December 1, 2020: deadline for accepting all SI papers

*         March 2021:  special issue publication


Barrientos, S., Gereffi, G., & Rossi, A. (2011). Economic and social
upgrading in global production networks: A new paradigm for a changing
world. International Labour Review, 150(3©\4), 319-340.

Blyde, J., Pietrobelli, C., & Volpe, C. (2014). ¡°A World of Possibilities:
Internationalization for Productive Development¡°,  Chapter 8 in G. Crespi,
E. Fernandez-Arias and E.H. Stein
<,3159.html?au_id=9> ,
Rethinking Productive Development: Sound Policies and Institutions for
Economic Transformation, Palgrave, pp.233-78. 

Buckley, P. J. (2009). The impact of the global factory on economic
development. Journal of World Business, 44(2), 131-143.

Buckley, P. J., & Strange, R. (2015). The governance of the global factory:
Location and control of world economic activity. Academy of Management
Perspectives, 29(2), 237-249.

Gereffi, G. (1999). International trade and industrial upgrading in the
apparel commodity chain. Journal of international economics, 48(1), 37-70.

Gereffi, G. (2018). Global Value Chains and Development. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T. (2005). The governance of global
value chains. Review of International Political Economy, 12(1), 78¨C104.

Gereffi, G., & Sturgeon, T. (2013). Global value chain-oriented industrial
policy: the role of emerging economies. Chapter 14 in D. Elms & P. Low
(Eds.) Global value chains in a changing world, WTO Publications: Geneva,

Henderson, J., Dicken, P., Hess, M., Coe, N., & Yeung, H. W. C. (2002).
Global production networks and the analysis of economic development. Review
of international political economy, 9(3), 436-464.

Kano, L. (2017). Global value chain governance: A relational perspective.
Journal of International Business Studies, 1-22.

Lema R., Pietrobelli C., and Rabellotti R., forthcoming. Innovation in
global value chains. In G. Gereffi, S. Ponte & G. Raj-Reichert, 2019,
Handbook on Global Value Chains, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, UK and Lyme, US. 

Lema R., Rabellotti, R., & Sampath, P. (2018). Innovation trajectories in
developing countries: Co-evolution of global value chains and innovation
systems. The European Journal of Development Research, 30(3): 345-363.

Mayer, F., & Gereffi, G. (2010). Regulation and economic globalization:
Prospects and limits of private governance. Business and Politics, 12(3),

McKinsey Global Institute (2019). Globalization in transition: the future of
trade and value chains.

Miroudot, S., D. Rouzet and F. Spinelli (2013), ¡°Trade Policy Implications
of Global Value Chains: Case Studies¡±, OECD Trade Policy Papers, No. 161,
OECD Publishing.  <> http://dx.doi.

Pietrobelli, C. and Rabellotti, R. (2011). Global Value Chains Meet
Innovation Systems: Are There Learning Opportunities for Developing
Countries? World Development, 39(7), 1261¨C1269.  <

Pietrobelli, C. and Staritz, C. (2018). ¡°Upgrading, Interactive Learning,
and Innovation Systems in Value Chain Interventions¡±, European Journal of
Development Research,  <>

Sako, M., & Zylberberg, E., forthcoming. Supplier strategy in global value
chains: shaping governance and profiting from upgrading. Socio-Economic

Taglioni, D. and Winkler, D. (2016). Making Global Value Chains Work for
Development. The World Bank: Washington.

Tokatli, N. (2012). Toward a better understanding of the apparel industry: a
critique of the upgrading literature. Journal of Economic Geography, 13(6),

Van Assche, A. (2017). Global value chains and the rise of a global supply
chain mindset. Chapter 13 in S. Tapp, A. Van Assche & R. Wolfe (eds.),
Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities, McGill-Queen¡¯
s University Press: Montr¨¦al, 183-208.

Van Assche, A., & Van Biesebroeck, J. (2018). Functional upgrading in
China's export processing sector. China Economic Review, 47, 245-262.


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