RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017


218 Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (5): Global production networks: nature, resources, environment
Affiliation Economic Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Neil M. Coe (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Henry Yeung (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Chair(s) Henry Yeung (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Timetable Thursday 31 August 2017, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract Since its emergence in the early 2000s, global production network (GPN) research has become firmly established as a key field within economic geography and the wider social sciences. Rather than being self-contained, however, GPN research is embedded in a vibrant interdisciplinary field concerned with developing chain and networks approaches to understanding the organizational dynamics and uneven developmental outcomes of the global economy. In addition to economic geography and regional studies, this agenda involves economic sociology, political science, international political economy and development studies and, increasingly, international trade economics and international business studies. The area is also one that has gathered strong purchase and relevance among international organizations, national governments and other important policy audiences, often using the terminology of global value chains (GVCs).

If in its early formulations GPN research offered a useful heuristic device for unpacking the shifting organizational geographies of the global economy, more recent endeavours under the moniker ‘GPN 2.0’ have sought to enhance the explanatory potential of the framework. In particular, there have been efforts to unravel the causal connections between the changing dynamics of global capitalism, the organizational configuration of GPNs, and on-the-ground patterns of (sub-national) uneven development that result. These sessions aim to contribute to this drive by bringing together more-than-empirical contributions that either (a) address the core concerns of GPN/GVC research relating to transnational production networks and the resultant patterns of value capture and territorial development or (b) build on important recent work on the interfaces of GPNs with domains such as politics/the state, finance, labour, consumption and the environment.

Please note that the paper 'Global Production Networks (GPN) and the Circular Economy (CE): Linking the Global and Local?' [Orderud et al] has been moved to the session Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (6): Global production networks: labour dimensions
Linked Sessions Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (1): Lecture: Global production networks and the political economy of contemporary capitalism
Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (2): Panel: Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects
Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (3): Global production networks: general debates
Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (4): Global production networks: conceptualizing strategic coupling
Advancing global production networks research: progress and prospects (6): Global production networks: labour dimensions
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
Re-thinking Corporate Influence in Global Production Networks through the Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Meat Sector
Alex Hughes (Newcastle University, UK)
Emma Roe (University of Southampton, UK)
Neil Wrigley (University of Southampton, UK)
Michelle Lowe (University of Southampton, UK)
Bill Keevil (University of Southampton, UK)
The global health issue and ecological challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is placing significant pressure on policy-makers, corporate actors and farms responsible for addressing antibiotic stewardship in food supply chains. It also poses questions about the conceptualization of agency and power in global production networks (GPNs) when seeking to understand supply chain responses. Focusing on the role of UK corporate food retailers in tackling AMR in their chicken and pork supply chains, the paper highlights the pressures on the meat sector to address the problem of growing resistance to antimicrobials amongst certain bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E-coli. The evolving policy landscape and private sector responses are discussed, and emerging strategies and standards for responsible antibiotic use in chicken and pork supply are evaluated. In doing so, the paper re-thinks the influence of the ‘lead firm’ in the production network and its relationship to institutional context, challenging the framings of ‘buyer-drivenness’ dominant in the GPN and GVC literatures. We suggest that understanding the geographies of a challenge such as AMR (Craddock and Hinchliffe, 2015) demands conceptualization of food supply chain dynamics that combine GPN insights into the institutional and corporate geographies of the economy with assemblage thinking about the ecological complexities of the AMR problem (Hinchliffe et al., 2017). The paper explores the merits of such a theoretical dialogue through our assessment of the current ways in which UK food retailers are playing a role in tackling AMR.
Shifting resource-based GPNs: the role of environmental crises in configuring geographies of production, the case of the global salmon industry facing the Chilean ISA crisis
Felipe Irarrazaval (The University of Manchester, UK)
Beatriz Bustos (Universidad de Chile, Chile)
Ongoing global environmental changes have impacted many natural resources by means of natural disasters, environmental depletion or new tough pathogens. All those impacts have significant effects on the productive processes sustained by those resources, and even though there have been several contributions to resource geographies within the global production networks (GPN) framework, GPN’s researchers have not paid enough attention to environmental crisis and its impacts on production and geographies of production. This paper aims to fill this gap by theoretically, engaging the GPN literature, with the resource geographies literature on environmental crisis. Empirically, it examines the changes in the salmon farming’s GPN as a consequence of the ISA virus crisis that affected Chilean firms in 2008. There are four main findings. First, global firms operating in Chile, decided that the whole productive chain must be developed within Chile to reduce sanitary risk. Second, there were significant institutional changes that modified considerably firm’s practices along the global chain since the new productive requirements changed costs, and consequently the Chilean salmon became less competitive. As a consequence, some foreign firms decided to not produce in Chile anymore, while other firms were sold or merge. Third, as the crisis showed, there is a spatial solution in response to the environmental depletion, expanding the productive frontier to the nearest region. Therefore, the paper shows that GPN’s research based on natural resources should recognize environmental crisis as an active component in the modification of the productive processes.
Fairtrade and beyond: the implications of stakeholders moving away from third-party oversight in cocoa sustainability production networks
Judith Krauss (The University of Manchester, UK)
Stephanie Barrientos (The University of Manchester, UK)
Fairtrade was by far the most popular seal for cocoa in the 2000s given consumers’ respect for the social movement. However, supermarkets’ sweets aisles are now populated by a multitude of labels certifying vastly divergent sets of socio-environmental standards. There have long been debates within the fair trade movement over the extent and terms of engagement with private companies. Amid growing fears that global demand for cocoa may outpace supply by 2020, a widening spectrum of stakeholders are engaging in industry-led ‘cocoa sustainability’ initiatives. This is exacerbating existing tensions between the commercial and socio-environmental aspects of sustainability standards. Increasingly, major private-sector stakeholders are relying on ‘sustainability’ programmes they have devised themselves, eschewing independent, third-party oversight from Fairtrade and other voluntary private standards. The paper explores how this shift changes the dynamics of the tensions between the socio-environmental and commercial dimensions of sustainability certification? Conceptually, the paper draws on global production network analysis to explore the terms of corporate, collective and institutional power, territorial, societal and network embeddedness, and their interdependencies. In this context, insights from Boltanski and Thévenot’s sources of justification and from convention theory’s diverging definitions of ‘quality’ will help investigate the interface especially with consumers’ perceptions. Empirically, a review of major chocolate players’ sustainability programmes unpacks what this change means for both Fairtrade as a socio-political movement and for cocoa sustainability. This paper argues that these shifts - in terms of who sets the rules, who monitors compliance and whose credibility is used in consumer-facing communication - have significant implications for the future direction of sustainability certification.
“Re-environmentalization”: Integrating environmental dimensions into embeddedness in GPNs through the case of Kenyan horticulture farmers
Aarti Krishnan (The University of Manchester, UK)
The literature on global production networks, including its conceptualisation of embeddedness, has insufficiently focused on the natural environment. However, nature is not a mere backdrop to economic action but is symmetrically entangled with the economic and social. This is especially so for farmers since their livelihoods and conservation of their natural environment are inseparable. There is a need to scrutinize factors beyond economic, political and social in order to truly understand embeddedness. This paper extends the conceptualization of territorial embeddedness to include the natural environment, not only in terms of natural capital, but also in terms of fluid aspects such as climate variability and shocks, because farmers are doubly exposed to both globalization and climate change. Participating in new production networks can involve ecologically re-embedding, possibly re-shapes dynamic and reciprocal relationships between humans and the natural environment. Feedback loops arising from ecologically reciprocal relationships are a result of the culture within society, the power struggles that occur within interactions in reembedded networks and the stability of the network. This paper refers to this dynamic process of dis-embedding from indigenous networks and re-embedding in new networks, territories, and following new environmental practices as “re-environmentalization”. Thus, “re-environmentalization” reshapes territorial, network and societal embeddedness. Cumulatively the success or not of re-environmentalization will determine future trajectories for evolution of ecological and social relationships. This paper uses a mixed method approach that draws of 93 interviews, 5 focus group discussions and a survey of 579 horticulture farmers in Kenya to elaborate the idea of “reenvironmentalization” and to show whether it leads to leads to positive or negative outcomes for producers. A novel approach is adopted by quantifying different forms of embeddedness and re-environmentalization across farmers supplying into different end markets (global, regional and local). Thereby, the paper not only advances ‘how’ the process of “re-environmentalization” occurs, but also demonstrates the extent.