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Outsourcing governance: states and the politics of a ‘global value chain world’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Frederick W. Mayer, Nicola Phillips

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-152
JournalNEW POLITICAL ECONOMY
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jan 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press14 Dec 2016
E-pub ahead of print4 Jan 2017
Published4 Mar 2017

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Abstract

Politics, and by extension states, are marginal in debates about the genesis, evolution and functioning of the global value chain (GVC)-based global economy. We contend here that the core complexity of state agency and state power needs to be much more carefully understood in GVC and related debates, as a basis on which the governance of the evolving GVC world can be properly theorised as revolving around the inseparability of economic and political power. We advance a framework for understanding the role of politics and states in the construction and maintenance of a GVC world, using a three-fold typology of facilitative, regulatory and distributive forms of governance, and propose a notion of ‘outsourcing governance’ as an attempt to capture the ways in which states purposefully, through active political agency, have engaged in a process of delegating a variety of governance functions and authority to private actors. Our overarching argument is normative: ‘outsourced governance’ of the form we currently observe is associated with regressive distributional outcomes, and is antithetical to an inclusive and sustainable global economy.

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