Globalization has led to greater coordination of production in different countries. Yet these global value chains often leave individuals, groups and whole regions in a disadvantaged position. This ISS cluster seeks ways in which disadvantaged groups and regions can benefit from value chains. The cluster’s work is unique in that it seeks to combine value chain dynamics with local and regional development processes. This ensures that issues like labour rights, representation, gender equity, fair trade, corporate social responsibility, social inclusion and sustainability are addressed.
The cluster takes a step back from more optimistic studies which claim that upgrading value chains will automatically enhance local development and social inclusion. Evidence suggests that upgrading in itself may not be enough to improve the situation of workers in the formal sector. For women, rural labourers, home workers and others working in the informal sector, the benefits are even more dubious. The researchers in the cluster explore ways in which processes of upgrading and exclusion interrelate and develop new strategies of inclusion.
The cluster comprises experienced researchers from ISS and partner institutions in the North and South. It is deeply embedded in the Dutch research environment through its links with a CERES network on value chain studies. Partners in the South come from India, Brazil, Vietnam and, increasingly, China.