Linking Malawi’s Agricultural Sector to Global Value Chains: The Case for Community Governance

Johanna Gammelgaard, Stine Haakonsson*, Sine Nørholm Just

*Corresponding author for this work

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The ambition of integrating national economies into global value chains (GVCs) has become a staple of agricultural and industrial policies of the world’s least-developed countries. Working with Malawi as a representative case of such national policies of value chains for development (VCDs), we investigate how the national ambition of GVC integration is experienced at the level of local communities. The analytical juxtaposition of policy documents and community experiences demonstrates an unmet need for GVC governance that mitigates the potential negative impact that large-scale production for global markets may have on local livelihoods and facilitates local communities’ bottom-up participation in GVCs. On this basis, we introduce the concept of community governance as a supplement to the notions of private and public governance. We argue that the community level must be included in the GVC governance mix in order to ensure livelihood upgrading of all stakeholders. Further, we suggest that moving beyond economic and social upgrading of direct participants will release the potential of the GVC approach to promote inclusive development based on principles of empowerment and self-determination. Introducing community governance in theory and practice, we conclude, is key to the success of VCDs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Business Policy
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)523-540
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 18 March 2021.


  • Global value chain
  • Land grabbing
  • Industrial policy
  • Malawi
  • Community governance
  • Livelihood upgrading

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