economic and social upgrading
in global production networks

Capturing the Gains Working Paper 2010/01

Re-embedding governance: global apparel value chains and decent work

Frederick Mayer, John Pickles.


Much of the global economy is now dominated by global production networks that span countries and continents and connect producers and buyers in global supply chains. This complex and dynamic structure of economic activity has rapidly brought the productive capacity of developing countries on-line, shifting production from the advanced industrialized world to locations in the South, most notably to the newly industrializing countries of China, India and Brazil. It is clear that economic globalization has created a great deal of wealth, but despite rapid economic growth, there is persistent evidence of exploitation of workers at the margins of the new global economy and pressure on labour in more traditional centres of production. Our concern in this paper is with the role of governance institutions in promoting decent work in apparel global value chains and production networks. By governance we refer to those institutions that constrain or enable market actor behaviour, both public in the form of governmental policies, rules, and regulations and private in the form of social norms, codes of conduct adopted by businesses, consumer demand for social responsibility, or other non-governmental institutions and social movements.

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