Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains and Industrial Clusters: Why Governance Matters

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© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.The burgeoning literature on global value chains (GVCs) has recast our understanding of how industrial clusters are shaped by their ties to the international economy, but within this context, the role played by corporate social responsibility (CSR) continues to evolve. New research in the past decade allows us to better understand how CSR is linked to industrial clusters and GVCs. With geographic production and trade patterns in many industries becoming concentrated in the global South, lead firms in GVCs have been under growing pressure to link economic and social upgrading in more integrated forms of CSR. This is leading to a confluence of “private governance” (corporate codes of conduct and monitoring), “social governance” (civil society pressure on business from labor organizations and non-governmental organizations), and “public governance” (government policies to support gains by labor groups and environmental activists). This new form of “synergistic governance” is illustrated with evidence from recent studies of GVCs and industrial clusters, as well as advances in theorizing about new patterns of governance in GVCs and clusters.






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Gereffi, G, and J Lee (2016). Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains and Industrial Clusters: Why Governance Matters. Journal of Business Ethics, 133(1). pp. 25–38. 10.1007/s10551-014-2373-7 Retrieved from

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Gary Gereffi

Professor Emeritus of Sociology

Gary Gereffi is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Director of the Global Value Chains Center at Duke University (  He has published over a dozen books and numerous articles on globalization, industrial upgrading, and social and economic development, and he is one of the originators of the global value chains framework.  His most recent books are:  Handbook on Global Value Chains (co-edited by Stefano Ponte, Gary Gereffi and Gale Raj-Reichert), Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2019); and Global Value Chains and Development: Redefining the Contours of 21st Century Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 2018).  Current projects include:  (1) the impact of U.S. protectionism on jobs and regional trade agreements; (2) evaluating how the digital economy and Industry 4.0 are likely to affect international business strategies and industrial upgrading; and (3) shifting regional interdependencies in East Asia and North America, with a focus on China, South Korea and Mexico vis-à-vis the United States.

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