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Power Relationships along the Value Chain: Multinational Firms, Global Buyers, and Local Suppliers' Performance

  • Carlo Pietrobelli
  • Federica Saliola

    ()

    (Department of Law, Università degli Studi Roma Tre)

There is an growing literature exploring the increasing fragmentation of production processes and the evolution of internationally-dispersed but functionally-integrated economic activities. However, most of this literature appears to neglect an important part of the story, that is the form and the organization of the relationships (the governance) among the various actors involved in these activities, and their implications for development. We develop this analysis in this paper, and explore it empirically with a new dataset on Thailand. In order to address this issue, we study global and domestic value chains in Thailand, and develop a quantitative measure of their governance, which takes into account different levels and types of buyers' involvement with suppliers' activities. We then use this measure to explore econometrically its relationship with suppliers' performance. An important finding is that the relationships MNCs have with their suppliers is multifold and generally more intense than for domestic value chains. Our estimates suggest that more intense buyers' involvement with local suppliers, not only in the definition of products' characteristics, design and quality, but also in technology dissemination and R&D is generally associated with higher suppliers' productivity. However, the governance of the value chain appears to affect the productivity of domestic value chains' suppliers to a greater extent than for firms supplying MNCs or for exporters. We suggest that this result may be explained by the different nature of the information and knowledge being exchanged, and by the gaps between the leader and its suppliers.

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File URL: http://host.uniroma3.it/centri/crei/pubblicazioni/workingpapers2007/CREI_02_2007.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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Paper provided by CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre in its series Working Papers with number 0702.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision: Jan 2007
Handle: RePEc:rcr:wpaper:07_02
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  1. Rodriguez-Clare, Andres, 1996. "Multinationals, Linkages, and Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 852-73, September.
  2. Davide CASTELLANI & Antonello ZANFEI, 1998. "Multinational experience and the creation of linkages with local firms. Evidence from the electronics industry," Working Papers 111, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  3. Zanfei, Antonello, 2000. "Transnational Firms and the Changing Organisation of Innovative Activities," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(5), pages 515-42, September.
  4. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Timothy J. Sturgeon, 2002. "Modular production networks: a new American model of industrial organization," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 451-496, June.
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  7. Kamal Saggi, 2002. "Trade, Foreign Direct Investment, and International Technology Transfer: A Survey," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 191-235, September.
  8. Beata Smarzynska Javorcik, 2004. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Increase the Productivity of Domestic Firms? In Search of Spillovers Through Backward Linkages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 605-627, June.
  9. James R. Markusen, 1995. "The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 169-189, Spring.
  10. Giuliani, Elisa & Pietrobelli, Carlo & Rabellotti, Roberta, 2005. "Upgrading in Global Value Chains: Lessons from Latin American Clusters," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 549-573, April.
  11. Andrea Morrison & Carlo Pietrobelli & Roberta Rabellotti, 2006. "Global Value Chains and Technological Capabilities: A Framework to Study Industrial Innovation in Developing Countries," KITeS Working Papers 192, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Dec 2006.
  12. Gereffi, Gary, 1999. "International trade and industrial upgrading in the apparel commodity chain," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 37-70, June.
  13. Lall, Sanjaya, 1980. "Vertical Inter-Firm Linkages in LDCs: An Empirical Study," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 42(3), pages 203-26, August.
  14. 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.
  15. Ann E. Harrison & Brian J. Aitken, 1999. "Do Domestic Firms Benefit from Direct Foreign Investment? Evidence from Venezuela," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 605-618, June.
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