Global Value Chain

Global Value Chains and Technological Capabilities: A Framework to Study Industrial Innovation in Developing Countries

Oxford Development Studies, 36(1): 39-58

The paper is co-authored with Andrea Morrison and Carlo Pietrobelli.

It presents a critical review of the Global Value Chain literature in light of the “Technological Capabilities” approach to innovation in LDCs. Participation in GVC is beneficial for firms in LDCs, which are bound to source technology internationally. However, the issues of learning and technological efforts at the firm-level remain largely uncovered by the GVC literature.
We propose a shift in the empirical and theoretical agenda, arguing that research should integrate the analysis of the endogenous process of technological capability development, of the specific firm-level efforts and of the mechanisms allowing knowledge to flow within and between different global value chains into the GVC literature.

Upgrading to Compete: SMEs, Clusters and Value Chains in Latin America

Upgrading to Compete: SMEs, Clusters and Value Chains in Latin America

Published by Harvard University Press

Edited with Carlo Pietrobelli

This books investigates clusters and value chains in Latin America. Globalization imposes new conditions and rules for competitiveness in international markets. It poses the imperative to link up with other actors, both at the local and at the global level, and find new ways to interact and learn from the relationship. Can local markets and clusters represent a powerful alternative to global markets? Do transnational corporations and global buyers play a role and enhance or undermine local firms’ upgrading and learning? What opportunities do clustering and global value chains offer to SMEs in global markets?
Upgrading to Compete shows that both the local and the global dimensions matter at once. Clustering and collaborating with other local firms offers substantial advantages, while also participating in global value chains and interacting with foreign buyers and companies may enhance local firms’ capabilities and access to distant markets. However, what remarkably matters is the form of governance of value chains and clusters that importantly affects the upgrading process of local SMEs.
The book illustrates this with original empirical evidence from several clusters in Latin America. New case studies from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua are supplemented by desk studies on other experiences in the region.

«At a time when there is growing interest in Latin America on active production sector strategies and on the role of SMEs, Pietrobelli and Rabellotti make in this book an essential contribution. “Upgrading to Compete” is full of quality information and insights. I look forward for the introduction of many of the ideas and recommendations of this book into policy action.»
Jose Antonio Ocampo
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Economic and Social Affairs

«This book offers a new way of thinking into fundamental aspects of industrial organization and international trade and exploits original case studies to develop new ideas and stylized facts.»
Michael Piore
David W. Skinner Professor of Political Economy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The book was reviewed in Foreign Affairs

You can buy the book here

Upgrading in global value chains: lessons from Latin America clusters

World Development, 33(4): 549-73

The article is in collaboration with Elisa Giuliani and Carlo Pietrobelli.

It has been shown that clustering helps local enterprises in industrial districts overcome growth constraints and compete in distant markets in advanced and less developed countries. Nevertheless, recent contributions have stressed that more attention needs to be paid to external linkages and to the role played by global buyers to foster upgrading at cluster levels. In this study, we contribute to this debate focusing on the analysis of the relationships existing between clustering, global value chains, upgrading and sectoral patterns of innovation in Latin America. We find that sectoral specificities matter and influence the mode and the extent of upgrading in clusters integrated in global value chains.
Download the pdf, JA World Development 2005-04

Clusters facing competition: the role of external linkages

Clusters facing competition: the role of external linkages

Published by Ashgate

Edited with Elisa Giuliani and Meine Pieter van Dijk

The book is a collection of papers on clusters in developing countries. The book explores the external sources of industrial cluster competitiveness and examines how they complement, integrate and substitute local, intra-cluster networks. The novelty of this book is to merge the cluster approach with two other conceptual approaches which have become increasingly popular in cluster and development studies: on the one hand, the Global Value Chains and their role in cluster upgrading processes; on the other, the National Systems of Innovation (NSIs) and their role in supporting the development of clusters in a national territory. The book explores these issues with empirical evidence from different countries in Latin America, Asia and the industrialized world.

«This book provides numerous and timely insights into new strategies for enhancing the competitiveness of firms and local clusters in the global economy. Replete with in-depth case studies across a broad range of industries and countries, this volume is must reading for anyone seeking to identify pragmatic as well as effective responses to the challenges of international competition today.»
Gary Gereffi,
Professor, Duke University, Durham, NC / USA

You can buy the book here

Distretti industriali e globalizzazione: upgrading e downgrading nella Riviera del Brenta

Economia e Politica Industriale

This paper is concerned with the impact of globalisation on local competitiveness in Brenta, one of the most important Italian footwear districts. The aim is to integrate the typical industrial district approach with the global value chain approach. To understand the changes confronting Brenta, the paper distinguishes between enterprises operating in a) the top brand chain, dominated by the owners of global brands in the luxury market, and b) the high quality chain in which German buying groups aggregate many independent footwear stores. The questions addressed are: Is globalisation pushing Brenta towards new value chains? What types of governance characterise the relationships between local and outside actors? Do the chains’ leaders come from inside or outside the districts? Does the integration of industrial clusters in global value chains enhance or weaken local upgrading strategies? One of the main findings is the increasing importance of the top brand value chain in the district. To be part of the chain, Brenta’s shoe producers accept a functional downgrading, abandoning design and marketing and focusing on production. Nonetheless, the remarkable recent growth rates in the luxury industry, which is built around global top brands, have allowed local producers in this chain to perform better that those in other chains.