Cloth Without a Weaver: Power, Emergence and Institutions Across Global Value Chains

Economy and Society 43(3): 315-345 (2014)

52 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2014 Last revised: 6 Apr 2015

See all articles by Mark Dallas

Mark Dallas

Union College; Harvard University, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Date Written: September 1, 2013

Abstract

In studies of the fragmentation and internationalization of production, most value chain approaches consider the inter-firm balance of power as the critical dynamic in development. With the firm as the primary unit of analysis, research long held out two promises: first, bridging the 'micro-macro gap' in development theory, meaning making valid inferences from micro-level actors (firms) to macro-sociological outcomes; and second, reconciling its firm-level organizational approach with institutionalism. This paper argues, first, that the literature is artificially constrained in bridging the micro-macro gap due to its delimited conceptualization of 'power,' based on the 'agentic-strategic' behavior of firms. It argues for broadening the notion of power to bridge the levels of analysis, based on the concept of 'emergence.' Second, while institutional critics are correct in criticizing value chain scholarship for its neglect, this paper finds that the effects of institutions are not as consistent or determinative as suggested, and hence, it seeks to expand the scope for incorporating institutionalism. These points are illustrated through an intra-industry comparative study of three textile agro-industries in China.

Keywords: global value chains, governance, power, emergence, institutions, development, China

JEL Classification: F60, F23

Suggested Citation

Dallas, Mark, Cloth Without a Weaver: Power, Emergence and Institutions Across Global Value Chains (September 1, 2013). Economy and Society 43(3): 315-345 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2460493 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2460493

Mark Dallas (Contact Author)

Union College ( email )

Schenectady, NY 12308-3151
United States

Harvard University, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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