This introductory paper to the special issue on governing global value chains (GVCs) focuses on the concept of governance as the dimension of GVCs that has received the most theoretical and empirical attention to date. After a brief introduction of the GVC concept in relation to the literature on economic globalization, we review the three main interpretations of GVC governance that have been advanced: governance as driving, governance as coordination and governance as normalization. After summaries of the four subsequent papers (by Bair, Gibbon and Ponte, Milberg, and Palpacuer), the authors offer reflections on the current state of development of GVC analysis. The unevenness and theoretical eclecticism of the GVC literature to date, particularly but not only with regard to the understanding of governance, poses the question of whether it is possible to reconcile the different approaches within a unified paradigm. If not, then GVC analysis is better understood as a methodological approach that can be mobilized within various theoretical perspectives.