Global production networks, labour and small firms
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The final publication is available at http://online.sagepub.com
The literature on global production networks (GPNs) and global commodity/value chains has generally conceptualised small firms as being at the bottom of the commodity chain hierarchy, and thus subordinate to larger firms. As a consequence, small firms and their employees are typically imagined to be fairly powerless to shape the structure of GPNs. By way of contrast, in this paper we argue that small firms and their employees are not lacking in the capacity to affect the way GPNs and commodity chains develop, but can in fact shape them in potentially significant ways. This recognition becomes evident if, instead of starting any analysis of small firms in GPNs with the governance structures of production networks or managerial strategies, we instead start the analysis with the organisation and control of the labour process in concrete settings, and tie this to broader understandings of uneven and combined development under capitalism.
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