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Analysing global economic organization: embedded networks and global chains compared

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This article analyses the network epistemologies that underlie several frameworks for studying global economic organization. Specifically, the embedded network of the new economic sociology is compared with various global chain constructs that seek to emphasize the connectedness of actors and activities across space. I argue that the micro-sociological foundations of the new economic sociology make embeddedness a problematic concept for analysing economic organization at a global level. I then contrast the embedded network as a trust-based governance structure with the construct of the global commodity chain, which understands network governance in terms of power relations or 'drivenness'. Finally, I explain how the recent theory of global value chain governance by Gereffi, Humphrey and Sturgeon (2005) departs from the macro-sociological tradition that oriented earlier chain frameworks: this theory, which focuses on the coordination of inter-firm dyads in a global value chain, returns to a micro-oriented understanding of governance, but one that draws more from transaction cost theory than from the new economic sociology.
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Keywords: commodity chains; embeddedness; global value chains; globalization; governance; networks

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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