Foster, C. 2017 Digitalization in Value Chains in Lower Income Countries: Exploring the Reconfiguration of Governance and Labour. Paper presented at: Digitalization and the Reconfiguration of Labour Governance in the Global Economy, Lausanne, Switzerland, 24th Nov.
In this paper, I examine the impacts of digitization in lower income countries, focusing on the ways that digitisation is reconfiguring value chain governance and consequently the potential effects on labour.
Drawing on an empirical analysis of digitisation in East Africa and a literature review, the paper argues that digitisation is driving GVCs toward dynamic, changeable networks and these reconfigurations have accelerated
with the growing flows of digital data. More empirically, we highlight three key categories of outcomes– ‘thintegration’, platforms and full-chain digitisation.
I will reflect what these changes in GVC governance mean in terms of labour. Increasing hands-off management through digital information flows weaken small producer alliances who were previously central to supporting producers. Flexibility for lead-firms reduces labour power and introduces new instabilities in value chains as suppliers rapidly switch producers. However, more agile producers may exploit knowledge spillovers and open platforms to gain niche opportunities.