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 24: Local firm-level learning and capability building in global value chains

Cornelia Staritz and Lindsay Whitfield


Growth in the number and size of internationally competitive local firms is an essential driver of economic development. This chapter is concerned with how local firms learn in order to enter, remain competitive and capture greater value within global value chains, focusing on the early stage of industrialization in less-developed countries. The global value chain approach with its focus on transnational interfirm governance contributes importantly to understanding local firms’ value chain entry and upgrading. However, local firm-level processes of learning, which are crucial to understanding why local firms are successful (or not), are generally not analysed. This chapter argues that combining the determinants of capability building and upgrading stressed in the global value chain literature and the technological capabilities approach allows us to expand our understanding of the challenges that local firms in less-developed countries face in entering and remaining in global value chains, as well as the factors shaping how local firms build their capabilities related to different upgrading paths. More generally, linking technological capability building with upgrading permits for a better conceptualization of upgrading paths and outcomes at the firm, sector and country levels.

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