The Governance of Global Wealth Chains

Leonard Seabrooke*, Duncan Wigan

*Corresponding author for this work

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    This article offers a theoretical framework to explain how Global Wealth Chains (GWCs) are created, maintained, and governed. We draw upon different strands of literature, including scholarship in International Political Economy and Economic Geography on Global Value Chains, literature on finance and law in Institutional Economics, and work from Economic Sociology on network dynamics within markets. This scholarship assists us in highlighting three variables in how GWCs are articulated and change according to: (1) the complexity of transactions, (2) regulatory liability, and (3) innovation capacities among suppliers of products used in wealth chains. We then differentiate five types of GWC governance – Market, Modular, Relational, Captive, and Hierarchy – which range from simple ‘off shelf’ products shielded from regulators by advantageous international tax laws to highly complex and flexible innovative financial products produced by large financial institutions and corporations. This article highlights how GWCs intersect with value chains, and provides brief case examples of wealth chains and how they interact.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalReview of International Political Economy
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)1-29
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: 4. January 2017


    • Global wealth chains
    • Global value chains
    • Offshore
    • Financial governance
    • Taxation
    • MNCs
    • Inequality

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