Global Value Chains, Business Networks, Strategy and International Business: The Convergence

John Humphrey, Emanuela Todeva, Eduardo Armando, Ernesto Giglio


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to clarify the distinction between the Global Value Chains and selected strands of the business literature; business networks, strategy, and international business. These four research areas have starting questions that are often different and the audiences they address also differ. There have been attempts to establish links across these theories, but these are exceptions rather than the rule.


Design/methodology/approach – The basic principles and concepts of the four areas are identified. The results are used to develop a summary matrix of the approaches. The methodological path is inductive and inferential, as the task involves searching for similarities, complementarities, and overlaps across the four social science disciplines.


Findings – Literature of the studied fields overlap on the issues they are trying to understand, even if they do not use identical terminology. The four areas advocate the same principle in understanding the organizational field: complexity. Firms are triggered to enter into exchange with other companies.


Originality/value – The theoretical contribution of this article is based on the idea that although the four research fields – GVC, Business Networks, Strategy, and International Business - advance independently from each other, common origins can be observed, allowing a set of common propositions.


Convergence, Global Value Chains, Business Networks, Strategy, International Business


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