IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Development through global value chains and the achievement of decent work : challenges to work and representational processes


  • Pegler, L.J.


The co-ordination of global production and trade within value chains has amplified debates concerning the impact of globalisation on labour, especially for developing countries. Whilst many development agencies argue for value chain insertion and upgrading as optimistic development pathways, many studies suggest a nuanced, conditional evaluation of the potential impacts on labour. One fundamental aspect of labour rights and conditions concerns representation and representational processes: that is, as encapsulated by the social dialogue component of Decent Work, whether representation is both effective and autonomous. This paper uses a model of organisational identity to deepen our understanding of the impacts of value chain insertion and upgrading on labour. It uses three studies of labour conditions in value chains in one country (Brazil) to evaluate the effectiveness and challenges to representation at the local level. These studies come from the food production (tomatoes), fruit collection/processing (passion fruit) and metals (refrigeration/washer) sectors and encompass industrial unions, rural unions and cooperatives. Whilst further work is required on the local, national and international contexts surrounding these studies, the analysis does suggest amplified and new complications for organisational identity as a result of value chain engagement. This adds another component to recent (but general) conceptual-empirical considerations of labour in value chains (Knorringa & Pegler, 2006). Responding to this, and the re-juvenation of representation, requires not only well linked strategies at local and international levels (thus substantial resources) but that representative organisations confront many developments which, potentially, also hold out promising opportunities for labour (e.g. Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Resource Management strategies).

Suggested Citation

  • Pegler, L.J., 2009. "Development through global value chains and the achievement of decent work : challenges to work and representational processes," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18708, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
  • Handle: RePEc:ems:euriss:18708

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. H. Schmitz & P. Knorringa, 2000. "Learning from Global Buyers," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(2), pages 177-205.
    2. Altenburg, Tilman & Schmitz, Hubert & Stamm, Andreas, 2008. "Breakthrough China's and India's Transition from Production to Innovation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 325-344, February.
    3. Kolk, Ans & van Tulder, Rob, 2006. "Poverty alleviation as business strategy? Evaluating commitments of frontrunner Multinational Corporations," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 789-801, May.
    4. Khalid Nadvi & John T. Thoburn & Bui Tat Thang & Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha & Nguyen Thi Hoa & Dao Hong Le & Enrique Blanco De Armas, 2004. "Vietnam in the global garment and textile value chain: impacts on firms and workers," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 111-123.
    5. John Humphrey & Hubert Schmitz, 2002. "How does insertion in global value chains affect upgrading in industrial clusters?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(9), pages 1017-1027.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Keshab Das, 2015. "Situating Labour in the Global Production Network Debate: As if the ‘South’ Mattered," Working Papers id:6665, eSocialSciences.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ems:euriss:18708. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (RePub). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.