DSA2018: Global inequalities
- Judith Krauss (University of Manchester) email
- Bimal Arora (Aston Business School) email
- Stephanie Barrientos (Global Development Institute) email
As global, regional and local value chains and production networks rise in importance in international trade, there is a need to analyse to what degree they reduce or reproduce inequalities in social, economic and environmental terms across stakeholders and space.
Diverse facets of inequality in social, economic and environmental terms are found in global, regional and local value chains and production networks, influencing geographies of trade, power relations and rights and access to resources. As global, regional and local value chains and production networks expand especially between and within Africa, Asia and Latin America, these issues are increasingly important for sustainable development.
Currently, there is an intensifying debate on how diverse inequalities, e.g. within and across geographies, gender, class, region or status, are manifest in the ways we work, live, produce and consume. These complex dynamics affect questions of agency and power, rights and access to resources, choice and capabilities at all scales. At the same time, as trade increasingly occurs through fragmented production and consumption relations, buyers across all scales are asking whether value chains and production networks are working to reduce or reproduce unequal relations in social, economic and environmental terms.
The panel welcomes papers on issues including, but not limited to:
- Links between efforts for greater sustainability and diverse inequalities in value chains and production networks
- The nexus of economic, social and environmental upgrading in value chains and production networks and its relevance in terms of reducing and reproducing inequalities
- Ways and means to identify, measure and address inequalities across diverse stakeholders and scales throughout global, regional and local value chains and production networks
- The relevance of inequality debates to issues around labour, human and environmental rights in global, regional and local production contexts
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Labour Arbitrage and Inequality in GVCs
This paper deals with the interaction of two kinds of rents, product and labour arbitrage rents. In the analysis of inequality both between country and within country inequality are considered.
Wage inequality is an essential feature of GVCs. Specialization in the performance of tasks, yielding economies of scale and scope, allied with the management doctrine of concentrating on core competencies can result in out-sourced or value chain production. But for outsourcing to be global in nature there have to be systematic differences in labour costs (and other production costs, such as environmental costs) in production across geographies. These cost differences lead to labour arbitrage as an essential feature of GVCs providing rents to lead firms and headquarter economies. Labour arbitrage, however, is not the only form of rent in GVCs, though it may be its characteristic form. There are also resource, process, and product rents.
This paper deals with the interaction of two kinds of rents, product and labour arbitrage rents. In the analysis of inequality both between country and within country inequality will be considered. Further, while supplier or developing economies as a whole will be considered, there will be special attention to the major supplier economies of China and India, from which, as mentioned above, some lead firms have also developed. While setting out this analysis of the product and labour arbitrage factors in overall rents and inequalities, the paper will also, albeit briefly deal with the question: how does development policy respond to these inequalities in an age of GVCs?
Globalization, Socio-Cultural Practices among Cotton-Picking Women in Pakistani Punjab
The overall focus of this paper is on relationship between the process of globalization and local socio-cultural practices of cotton-picking women workers in the global production network for the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in Punjab, Pakistan.
A number of scholarly studies suggest that globalization—a process largely supported and intensified by colonial and imperial interests—has substantially re-formulated traditional societies in terms of economic mechanisms and socio-cultural practices (which include social organization, family structure, gender (in) equality, professions, ideas about religion and politics, etc.). We nuance this ascertain by studying the lives of cotton-picking women in Pakistani Punjab in the 2000s. We argue that the process of globalization—in terms of mechanized harvesting and integration with global political economy of trade—has not really changed the socio-cultural practices among these cotton-picking women. The status of women workers remains the same; the ideas related to education, politics, religion, social organization, values and attitudes show insignificant alteration. At micro-level, the mechanization of society does not change hierarchies as such, in fact, previously dominating groups and communities continue to enjoy their role in a new set up. Such reading of globalization at micro-level, also suggests that communities of zamindar (landholders) and labor (such as cotton-picking women) accept only those aspects of globalization, which do not challenge their existing norms and values. By considering the working of global production network for the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in Punjab, we show how the activities of such organizations have to reconcile with local socio-cultural practices to be effective and accepted.
Tomatoes in winter: counter-seasonal control of a global production network site in Morocco
This paper engages with literature on global production networks, food regimes and power. Drawing on fieldwork in a counter-seasonal production site in Morocco, I argue that dynamics of global inequalities in such networks can be best understood by engaging with experiences of workers within them.
Many details of global inequalities can be read from the daily routines of workers in the global production networks that fill our supermarkets and Amazon baskets. This paper focuses on the case of workers picking and packing counter-seasonal crops for the European market in the intensive production site of Chtouka Ait Baha, Southern Morocco. This case often falls beyond focus of British scholarship and press. Moroccan production occurs at the intersection between the EU trade block, the MENA region, and broader African continent. Yet, with post-colonial ties to France and Spain, connections often remain in those countries. With the UK's increasing trade links with Morocco, it is time to listen to voices of Moroccan workers, even if they must be translated through Tamazight, Moroccan Arabic and French before meeting broader audiences in the UK.
Following fieldwork living in this production site, I will draw on interviews, field notes and workshop data to illustrate elements of this production network as seen by workers. Their experiences speak directly to dynamics of inequality. The twelve-hour days of women in pack-houses at high export season illustrate gender inequality in the organisation of work. Their awareness of the 'frigo' trucks which carry away produce, and requirements of different 'clients', show workers' awareness of the global network in which they are enmeshed, and reveals how they understand themselves within this. Furthermore, it reveals power dynamics enforced through time and distance, and reinforcements of inequalities as pressures to produce for supermarket 'clients' fall differently on different workers.
Going nowhere fast? Changed working conditions on South Africa's Western Cape fruit and wine farms
This paper compares if and how farmworker livelihoods have changed since the heyday of Apartheid, and the role of the state in these changes. While farmworkers enjoy vastly more legal protection than in the past, most may in fact be economically worse off .
This paper compares if and how farmworker livelihoods have changed since the heyday of Apartheid, and the role of the state in these changes. While farmworkers enjoy vastly more legal protection than in the past, most may in fact be worse off economically. This lack of improvement can be attributed to the state's contradictory policy approach towards the sector: while it extended protection to farmworkers post-1994, it withdrew regulatory support from producers that previously forced them to bargain collectively with international retailers. Since the 1980s, international retailers have increasingly consolidated and formed buyer monopolies, so producers now face extremely powerful bargaining partners as individuals and have therefore become price takers. To protect their profit margins and to cope with the "pincer effect" of public and private regulation, producers have externalised and casualised their labour forces, and moved workers, who previously benefited from on-farm housing, off-farm. The research points to the limited power of the state to regulate employer-employee relations that are embedded in global value chains, and to the problematic of relying on a narrowly rights-based approach to remedy working conditions. While aiming to regulate employer-employee relations within its national jurisdiction, the state has failed to insulate such relations from the power wielded in the global fruit value chain that shapes relations right into the farmyard. Such power relations not only shape the commercial relations between international retailers and local producers, but also between local producers and their workers.
Upgrading in the South African Cape Flora industry: bifurcation, barriers and behaviours
A sector of the South African Cape Flora industry is successfully engaging with export opportunities requiring product upgrading and associated social and environmental upgrading. However, upgrading potential is not being maximised due to Northern corporate behaviours and local regulatory weakness.
This paper will explore how efforts to instigate upgrading are playing out within South Africa's indigenous Cape Flora sector, which has been exporting local flowers since the 19th Century. The Cape Flora industry has historically been associated with racially defined inequalities, poor working conditions and negative environmental impacts. However, In the last decade there have been marked shifts in the industry which are consistent with upgrading. Product upgrading has been particularly noticeable, whilst there have also been trends towards environmental and social upgrading. As a result the industry is bifurcating, with more capitalised export oriented companies, exhibiting upgrading characteristics, focusing upon high quality products. Whilst, other parts of the industry continue to serve less demanding markets and exhibit less progressive social and environmental behaviours. However, even within the more professionalised sector there are barriers, created by market dynamics and retailer behaviours, which generate uncertainties for producers, which in turn reduce upgrading outcomes. Examples, of these barriers include purchasing practices exhibited by retailers and their agents which are increasingly rigid and favour very large suppliers. In this sense, whilst the possibilities for upgrading are very real there remains an element of precarity, which is indicative of the ongoing power of operators in the Global North to influence livelihoods and practices in the Global South. In the case of the Cape Flora industry these power asymmetries are reinforced by weaknesses in local regulatory regimes and institutions, which are largely unable to ensure that social and environmental laws are complied with.
Contesting Sustainable Production: The Unintended Consequences of the RSPO in the Papua New Guinean Palm Oil Industry
This paper explores the (un)intended consequences of voluntary sustainability certification, by using a case study of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in Papua New Guinea.
The past decades have seen the emergence of voluntary 'sustainable' certifications to improve agricultural production, which may be understood as market-based responses to environmental, social, and economic concerns. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a clear example of how the global palm oil industry has responded to environmental and social allegations by civil society groups. Yet, voluntary sustainability certifications do not benefit all value chain actors equally and may imply unintended consequences, raising important distributional questions. This article poses two questions: Who benefits and who does not benefit from sustainability certifications? What are the broader unintended consequences of such certification for government policies and capacities?
By using a case study of Papua New Guinea, this paper argues that the RSPO has had limited success in contributing to local economic development. I question the broader sustainability claim of the industry by evaluating the (unintended) consequences of the RSPO on the institutional framework (see e.g. Cramb and Curry 2012, 234). Specifically, I assess how the RSPO's implementation has influenced policy making, arguing that it has exacerbated pre-existing weaknesses in regulative state capacity and potentially undermined state governance due to efforts to minimize the state's involvement. I conclude that the RSPO has so far proven to be largely ineffective in improving meaningful 'sustainable' development, potentially undermining the development of sustainable state policy making. The results suggest that voluntary private forms of governance such as the RSPO are not adequate to lead to meaningful sustainable, equitable and broad-based development.
Gender and technological upgrading: A decomposition analysis for manufacturing in developing economies
This paper investigates the relationship between technological upgrading and the female share of employment from 1990 to 2012 for 14 developing countries with significant integration into global value chains. It has policy implications for gender inequality as it relates to technological upgrading.
This paper investigates the relationship between technological upgrading and the female share of employment from 1990 to 2012 for 14 developing countries with significant integration into global value chains (GVCs). Using accounting decomposition methods, we estimate sectoral contributions (as well as within and between effects) to both labor productivity and the female share of employment for 15 manufacturing industries. We also conduct regression analysis in order to test whether there is a more general relationship between technological upgrading and defeminization within manufacturing industries. Preliminary results suggest the predominance of within sector effects for both labor productivity and the female share of employment as well as a statistically significant negative relationship between the two variables. This research contributes to the literature on the hypothesized causes of the feminization and defeminization of labor and has policy implications for gender inequalities as they relate to technological upgrading.
Multi-stakeholder initiatives in Bangladesh after Rana Plaza: global norms and workers' perspectives
The Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 gave rise to multi-stakeholder initiatives, moving away from buyer-driven codes of conduct. This paper asks if these initiatives have improved conditions, how improvements overlap with workers' priorities, and where and why has progress been slowest.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in 2013, resulting in the deaths of 1133 factory workers and injuring 1800, has been described as 'the worst industrial disaster in recorded history'. The tragedy galvanized a range of stakeholders, including the lead buyers, to renew their efforts to promote health and safety in Bangladesh's export garment industry. 190 lead retailers and brands from 20 mainly European countries together with transnational and local unions signed the legally binding Accord for Fire and Building Safety. A counterpart, non-legally binding agreement, the Alliance agreement, was signed by 26 mainly US lead firms. These initiatives represent a move away from the buyer-driven compliance-based model that continues to dominate CSR, to a 'cooperation-based' model which brings together multiple stakeholders who affect, and are affected by, the business operations of lead MNCs in global value chains.
This paper is concerned with the experiences and perceptions of workers with regard to these new initiatives. It examines some of the different ways in which CSR has been conceptualized - and the extent to which these address worker interests. This provides us with the main questions which our empirical analysis will address: to what extent have these new initiatives brought about improvements; to what extent do these improvements overlap with workers' priorities; and where has progress been slowest or absent? The paper is part of a larger multi-country project which, along with workers' viewpoints, also explores the perspectives of other key stakeholders, including lead buyers and Bangladeshi suppliers.
Global fish and new forms of inequality: social struggles around the transnational production network of industrial salmon farming in Southern Chile
The paper examines the new forms of inequality created by the arrival of the global salmon farming industry in Southern Chile and the social struggles that respond to them. Following a Polanyian perspective, the study intents to enrich the GPN/GVC framework by bringing in a social movement approach.
Since the mid-eighties, the salmon industry in Southern Chile has evolved to a global industry. Long hailed as a success story of export diversification, cluster formation and job creation in a remote area, the outbreak of fish diseases put the global industry into an ongoing severe crisis.
The salmon farming industry generates a range of conflicts linked to diverse social actors, located in the area and beyond. On the side of labor, seasonal migrant workers, subcontracted suppliers, female factory workers and highly specialized employees react differently to layoffs and the lowering of working conditions and remuneration. Social-ecological conflicts involve traditional fishermen, local communities, women`s organizations and environmental groups at different spatial scales.
The paper links the paradigm of global production networks with social movement theory, following a Polanyian perspective. Starting point is the assumption that the protests follow different logics, all of them can be seen as responses to different forms and dimensions of commodification, set in force by the arrival of the global industry: struggles against the marketization of land and sea, and struggles against the commodification of labor which entails also ex-commodification, the expulsion of labor in terms of crisis, and re-commodification when working conditions become worse.
The paper examines empirically new forms of inequality created by the arrival of the global industry and how social actors at different spatial scales react on them. The study intents to enrich the GPN/GVC approach by bringing in social actors and their struggles against commodification.
The myths of the agricultural value chain development: inequalities in cassava value chains
The paper critically examines narratives of cassava value chain development and agricultural commercialisation from an inequalities perspective using mixed-method evidence from Nigeria and Malawi from 2009 to 2014.
Despite the fact that sub-national agricultural value chains include the majority of world's poor, and have been the object of much donor-funded work in poverty reduction, they are often overlooked by value chain and inequalities research, which has tended to focus more on international value chains and large private sector companies. This paper addresses this research gap with findings on cassava value chain development in Nigeria and Malawi using data from mixed-method, longitudinal panel interviews and a household survey from 2009 to 2014.
The findings demonstrate the complexity of cassava value chains and how market participation varies significantly by gender and other factors of social difference. This complexity reflects dynamic social hierarchies, related to the nature of cassava being a staple crop, which provides both opportunities and constraints for smallholder participation and benefit from particular markets. Socio-economic trends in cassava markets can also be explained by the key factors in smallholder decision making, including varying levels of women's agency, access to resources given their social conditionality, perceptions of value and livelihood uncertainty. Therefore recognising the importance of social relations and market 'embeddedness' is vital for addressing inequalities that are often overlooked in linear value chain approaches that simplify the context. In conclusion, the results from the study provide important reflections on value chain development and agricultural commercialisation narratives, which tend to reflect gendered and equality myths around poverty reduction.
How the dynamics of Public-Private Partnership successfully support Agricultural Value Chain in Global South?
This research tried to explore how the dynamics and mechanism of PPP successfully support Agricultural Value Chain in Global South with three cases of cooperation between donor agencies and international food companies
This research aimed at studying how Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the official development assistance (ODA) expand Agricultural Value Chains in developing countries. The conventional ODA has provided one-way assistance to farmers in Global South recognizing them as a passive recipient. However, a new paradigm in the era of the SDGs encourages donor agencies and private companies to change their approach by considering farmers in Global South as an active producer for the end market in developing countries. However, it still needs to explore how the dynamics and mechanism of PPP successfully support Agricultural Value Chain.
To this end, this study defined the role and relationship of the actors at each VC phase and then assessed the partnership among actors in VCs, with the cases of cooperation between donor agencies and international food companies. Especially, it examined the collaboration for chili pepper production in Vietnam between CJ, a Korean food company, and KOICA, a donor agency of Korea. CJ which has the goal to enter into Southeast Asian market has participated Public-Private-Partnership ODA project in order to continuously provide chili peppers to its Kimchi factory built in Vietnam. The case of Unilever and DFID, UK in Kenya and Ajinomoto and JICA, Japan in Ghana were also compared with Korean case.
In conclusion, it suggests policy implications for a new model of ODA programs focusing on Agricultural Value Chains and the theme of PPPs.
Between Markets and Hierarchies. The Cyclic Nature of Smallholder Farmers' Transactions in Kenyan Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Export Value Chain
Previous studies of Kenyan fresh fruits and vegetables value chain have shown that great number of smallholder farmers exited the value chain because of the food standards. However, it is unknown what happens to these farmers. This paper explores the smallholder farmers' transactional behaviour.
Previous studies of the Kenyan FFV value chain have shown that a great number of smallholder farmers dropped out of the value chain as a consequence of introduction of food standards in the FFV export value chain. However, it is largely unknown what happens to these farmers, hence the questions what happens to the farmers who are known to have dropped out of the Kenyan fresh fruits and vegetables (FFV) export value chain? This paper, applies Oliver Williamson transaction costs economics, to relate contractual hazards in Kenyan FFV export value chain to the smallholder farmers exit of the FFV value chain. The paper shows that when the smallholder farmers exit the FFV value chain, they join the local food crops agricultural markets. However, later these farmers re-joins the FFV value chain because of the presence of contract farming in FFV and the lack of the same in the local produce markets. Hence, the overall argument is that these farmers are in-between local produce spots markets and FFV hierarchy.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.