The global value chain (GVC) has emerged as an important tool for describing the interactions among actors in a complex chain of production–consumption relations that extends across space. Scholars of GVCs have carefully elaborated what ‘global’ and ‘chain’ mean in these analyses, but how they understand ‘value’ and how it is produced, captured and distributed through interfirm chains and networks is less clear. Many GVC scholars see value creation as a process driven by differential abilities to create profits and/or capture rents from specific monopoly conditions. Others examining value as profits and rent-capture analyse firm-level or national-level processes of economic and social upgrading and/or downgrading. Yet, other GVC scholars are centrally concerned with the networked conditions of production through which value is produced and traded, or the centrality of exploitation and ‘more fundamental’ social and class struggles over value capture. Most recently, GVC scholars have returned to Marxian value theory to examine the relationship between value chains and the central dynamics of capital. Although each approach explains different aspects of the social and geographical consequences of locational shifts in production and the changing social and technical organizations of firms and firm networks, their varying assumptions about value have not been a strong focus of attention. In this chapter, we briefly review how these approaches to global value chains have defined and analyzed ‘value’. We conclude with some broader speculative questions about how more explicit attention to value in GVC scholarship might help to explain why GVCs have become so central a concept and organizational form in the contemporary global economy.
Elizabeth Havice and John Pickles
Liam Campling and Elizabeth Havice
The ‘environment’ is central to all economic activity, everywhere, always. However, GVC scholars have paid only minimal attention to the environment and its formative role in structuring GVCs and interfirm relations, as well as their socio-ecological manifestations. The outcome, the authors suggest, is an important blind spot in GVC scholars’ understanding of how interfirm power relations can actually play out. To help turn scholars’ focus to the analytical opportunities that attention to the environment can offer, the authors identify and review small, but growing, groups of literature that bridge GVCs and the environment around the following thematic areas: (1) materiality; (2) environmental upgrading; (3) waste and post-consumption; and (4) culture and ecology in networks of global production. They note that these four areas are rarely in conversation with each other, though an emerging body of work is building from the advances of each to explore empirically and theorize the constitutive role of the environment in GVCs. They review these integrative efforts in the final section of the chapter, highlighting how they enhance our understandings of GVCs and ‘the environment’ as they intersect with distributive dynamics and unequal power relations that have long been central sites of query in GVC scholarship.