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Global Development Institute

Capturing the Gains: economic and social upgrading, global production networks and trade

Firms in the North increasingly outsource production and services to developing countries. Are these global production networks (GPNs) beneficial, generating income and jobs, or do they increase risk and vulnerability for poorer producers and workers?

Capturing the Gains explores the role of private sector, civil society, national governments and international organisations in securing real gains for poorer workers and producers in the South.

The concepts of 'Economic and social upgrading' are important factors within global production networks. They contribute to more sustainable growth and development.

  • Economic upgrading stimulates innovation and competitiveness among firms.
  • Social upgrading promotes employment based on decent work and respect for labour standards.

How the two relate, and what strategies can help to combine them, require further analysis.

The aim is to promote policies and interventions for fairer trade, to benefit poorer producers and workers, and promote more sustainable development.

The Capturing the Gains research project is being done through a range of cross country and cross sectoral studies.

The University of Manchester leads on this project are Professor Stephanie Barrientos and Dr Khalid Nadvi. The project is funded by UK Department for International Development, (DFID), the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC) and The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The research is being carried out in partnership with Duke University.

Key academic publications

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