The offshore services value chain: upgrading trajectories in developing countries



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This article analyses the offshore services industry using the global value chain approach. This industry has grown at a rapid pace over the last decade, driven principally by the search of businesses to reduce costs by unbundling and offshoring corporate services. This paper explores how developing nations have seized these growth opportunities. While developed countries consume the vast majority of global services, demand from developing economies and new end markets is beginning to grow. Supply is dominated by India, which in 2009 had 45% of the global market share for offshore services. Indian firms occupy most value chain segments and they have expanded in the South to serve both domestic and export markets. Although the quality and quantity of human capital remains the key factor in the location of offshore services, formal education is being supplemented by demand-driven training and compliance with required international professional certifications and performance standards. Copyright © 2011 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.






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Fernandez-Stark, K, P Bamber and G Gereffi (2011). The offshore services value chain: upgrading trajectories in developing countries. International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 4(1/2/3). 10.1504/IJTLID.2011.041905 Retrieved from

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Penny Bamber


Penny is a global value chain specialist, with over a decade of experience in research and consulting. Her work focuses on how countries, companies and workers – particularly those in developing countries – can more sustainably compete in the global economy. Her expertise lies in examining global industry dynamics to identify opportunities for different actors to engage, and developing strategies and solutions for them to do so. Widely cited, her work has covered a broad range of sectors and geographies, from inserting marginalized actors into the agricultural and mining industries in Latin America, advising on industrial policy development in the Philippines and identifying nearshoring opportunities in the healthcare sector for Central America, to examining the impact of automation on the future of Chinese industry.

With extensive contributions to the development of the global value chain framework, Penny has authored and contributed to numerous books, reports and journal articles on economic growth and development, circular economy, gender and trade, technology and skills for the future. Recent publications include the edited volume China’s New Development Strategies: Upgrading from Above and from Below in Global Value Chains together with fellow editors Gary Gereffi and Karina Fernandez-Stark. She has consulted and provided policy analysis for national and international organizations, including the World Bank, the OECD, UNCTAD, ILO, the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.  She has led capacity-building programs for policymakers to boost national competitiveness in global trade in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Penny has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chile, a Diploma in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.    


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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