Publication: Theorizing globalized production and digitalization: Towards a re-centering of value

Foster, C.G. 2023. Theorizing globalized production and digitalization: Towards a re-centering of value. Competition & Change, 28, 1, 189-208

Paper (open access)


Digital and data-driven technologies are having substantial impacts on global production, with growing analysis within established frameworks such as Global Value Chains (GVC) and Global Production Networks (GPN). Given the claims, however, that digitalization is leading to transformations in the patterns of production and labor, further theoretical work is needed to consider how these frameworks fit with evolving dynamics. Beginning with critiques that mainstream GVC/GPN have poorly theorized the concept of value, the paper argues that a re-centering of value is crucial for improved understanding of digitalization.

To do this, broader debates in the literature on the digital economy—on rent and surplus value—are reviewed. These debates provide an expanded perspective of value including a broader understanding of forms of techno-economic rent and the growing debates on heterogeneous forms of labor, shaping production. A stronger orientation towards value within mainstream GVC/GPN studies can absorb some of these ideas, but considering the evolving forms, conventional notions of governance and upgrading may be less viable.

Previous versions

Foster, C.G. 2019. Implications of digitalisation in global production: Towards a re-centring of value. Paper presented at SASE 2019, New York, 27th June
Paper in progress