Intellectual Property, Power and Inequality in Agricultural Value Chains

Juliane Lang

Student thesis: Master thesis


One might argue that global IP protection promotes technology diffusion and innovation that will consequently lead to a better distribution of wealth between Global North and Global South. In today’s economy, success however largely depends on countries’ or firms’ abilities to retain activities at higher value-added stages of GVCs. As most R&D and technological capabilities lie with highly capitalized firms in developed countries, a strong international IP regime might therefore also restrict or diminish opportunities for (small) actors in the Global South to move to higher value-added stages. In knowledge- and technology-intensive industries such as electronics, the role of IPRs in shaping governance and value distribution has widely been acknowledged. Natural resource industries such as agriculture, fishing or forestry in turn have been widely cut out of this debate as they are not associated with intangible capital and IP. This thesis seeks to address this gap, following the proposal by Baars et al. (2016) to devise a research agenda on law, power and governance in GVCs. Looking at agricultural VCs and more specifically the Indian rice VC, it draws on the typology of power developed by Dallas, Ponte and Sturgeon (2019) to examine the mechanisms under which IPRs can underpin different forms of power, impact VC governance and shape upgrading opportunities for small actors in the Global South.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages100
SupervisorsStefano Ponte