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Edited by Maureen McKelvey and Jun Jin
At its core, the contemporary international system is based on the existence of and interaction between a set of territorially demarcated states (Agnew 1994). Within each of these territorially bounded spaces, the state – as a collection of centralised political institutions – is sovereign. This sovereignty within this internationally agreed geographic division is presumed to be mutually exclusive (Taylor 1995). Whilst the exclusivity of state territoriality has been increasingly challenged (see below), there can be little doubting that it remains a focal point within the operation of the contemporary international system. The desire of the state to sustain and maintain its territorial pre-eminence within its bounded space requires it to develop and implement territorial strategies that enable, enforce and/or legitimise its territoriality. This is suggestive that the primary objective of these territorial strategies is to enable territoriality through enhancing the welfare of its citizens via growth, improved security, socio-economic development, territorial cohesion, etc. (Taylor 1994). This emphasises – in the absence of coercion of its citizens – the link between territoriality and the legitimacy of the state as a territorial agent. Integral to this link is the process of infrastructuring. This is defined as the act of creating and maintaining a territorial infrastructure system where infrastructure is commonly defined as ‘built networks that enable flows over space’ (Larkin 2013, p.329), offering services that, at their core, are central to territorial functioning and to the operation of the agents within that space (Finger et al. 2005).
Stefano Ponte, Gary Gereffi and Gale Raj-Reichert
This introductory chapter provides an overview of what global value chains (GVCs) are, and why they are important. It presents a genealogy of the emergence of GVCs as a concept and analytical framework, and some reflections on more recent developments in this field. Finally, it describes the chapter organization of this Handbook along its five cross-cutting themes: mapping, measuring and analysing GVCs; governance, power and inequality; the multiple dimensions of upgrading and downgrading; how innovation, strategy and learning can shape governance and upgrading; and GVCs, development and public policy.
Since the 1980s it had been fashionable to suggest that there was little that individual countries could do in the face of global economic forces, and any attempt to pursue independent policies would be doomed to failure. ‘Even China’, it was often said, was embracing the global free market. The idea that developing countries, such as India, could promote their own developmental interests by sheltering behind exchange controls or national planning had been swept away along with the Berlin Wall. In the globalized economy of the twenty-first century, it was argued, national governments had to go with the flow of global markets. As the 2008 international financial crisis was breaking, the global strategy firm Oxford Analytica held one of its usual daily analysis sessions, but open to those attending its annual conference. The chair briefly summarised the unfolding global crisis, and then went round the table asking the various national experts to report. Despite the consensus referred to above, the reports did not paint a picture of a uniform globalised market to which each country related in the same way. The US and UK had been referred to in the opening statement, being very much at the centre of whatever it was that had caused the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. But when the expert on Brazil was called, he reported that the socialist President Lula had kept its financial sector rather independent of the global markets. Next India, and here too it was reported that it actually hadn’t opened itself up to the global market quite as much as might have been thought. Then China, where, it was reported, the Communist Party had maintained rather a firm grip.