Handbook on Global Value Chains
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Handbook on Global Value Chains

Edited by Stefano Ponte, Gary Gereffi and Gale Raj-Reichert

Global value chains (GVCs) are a key feature of the global economy in the 21st century. They show how international investment and trade create cross-border production networks that link countries, firms and workers around the globe. This Handbook describes how GVCs arise and vary across industries and countries, and how they have evolved over time in response to economic and political forces. With chapters written by leading interdisciplinary scholars, the Handbook unpacks the key concepts of GVC governance and upgrading, and explores policy implications for advanced and developing economies alike.
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Chapter 14: Economic upgrading in global value chains

Gary Gereffi

Abstract

Economic upgrading is a core concept in the GVC framework. This chapter reviews key typologies and trajectories of upgrading, and discusses the limits to upgrading concepts and case studies from the extant literature. New directions in the research on economic upgrading and downgrading are highlighted, including: (1) the distinct upgrading dynamics in vertically specialized versus additive GVCs; (2) the pursuit of high-value niches within resource-based GVCs; (3) the advantages and disadvantages of using trade policy to upgrade labour-intensive value chains; and (4) the role of innovation systems in GVC upgrading.

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