Global Value Chains: From Governance to Governmentality?

Peter Gibbon, Stefano Ponte

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One of the main preoccupations of global value chain (GVC) analysis has been how value chains are governed and by which types of firms. Most current conceptualizations distinguish between different types of GVC governance and see them as effects of given distributions of attributes between firms along chains. The governmentality literature instead sees economic governance primarily in terms of invoked models of practice, and interprets it through economic agents' descriptions of their own governing (or governed) practices. Drawing on the specialized magazines, training manuals and professional journals that served purchasing practitioners in US manufacturing, this article draws attention to the hitherto unexplored role of expert knowledge and practices in GVC governance. At the same time, it highlights that the governmentality literature glosses over problems associated with the actual implementation and effectiveness of expert practices. The article concludes by reflecting on the theoretical implications of such an analysis for both the GVC and the governmentality literatures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomy and Society
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)365-392
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Global value chains
  • Governance
  • Governmentality
  • Performativity
  • US manufacturing industry
  • Supply chain management

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