economic and social upgrading
in global production networks

Capturing the Gains Working Paper 2010/03

Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks: Developing a Framework for Analysis

Stephanie Barrientos, Gary Gereffi, and Arianna Rossi


A key challenge to promoting decent work in global production networks is how to improve the position of both firms and workers integrated into value chains in which lead firms play a dominant role. Analysis of global production networks and value chains has focused mainly on firms, often overlooking the role of labour. This paper develops a framework for examining the linkages between the economic upgrading of firms and the social upgrading of workers. It examines studies which indicate that firm upgrading can but does not necessarily lead to improvements for workers. Different trajectories and scenarios are explored in order to consider under what circumstances both firms and workers can gain from a process of upgrading.

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