Oligopoly-driven development: the World Bank's Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains in perspective

Selwyn, Benjamin and Leyden, Dara (2021) Oligopoly-driven development: the World Bank's Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains in perspective. Competition and Change. pp. 1-23. ISSN 1024-5294

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The World Development Report 2020 (WDR2020) asserts that global value chains raise productivity and incomes, create better jobs and reduce poverty, and proposes state policies to facilitate global value chain-based development. We deploy an immanent critique of WDR2020 to interrogate its claims regarding wages and working conditions. Using the Report’s own evidence, we identify contradictions in its claims, which stem from its use of comparative advantage trade theory to reconceptualize global value chain relations. This perspective predicts mutual gains between trading partners, but its core assumptions are incompatible with the realities of global value chains, in which (mostly Northern) oligopolistic lead firms capture value from (mostly Southern) suppliers and workers. We show how WDR2020 conceals these contradictions by misconstruing, inverting and ignoring evidence (particularly of labour’s agency), whilst failing to recommend redistributive measures for the unequal outcomes that it recognizes. By redeploying heterodox conceptions of monopoly capital and by using a class-relational approach, we scrutinize WDR2020's overly positive portrayal of lead firms. We provide alternative theoretical foundations to better explain the evidence within the Report, which shows that global value chains concentrate wealth, exacerbate inequalities and constrain social upgrading – with negative consequences for supplier firm workers in developing countries.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 07:57
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2021 08:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/98024

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