Call for papers: “Interrogating regional value chains & their implications for 

Organized by: University of Johannesburg & University of Manchester
Venue: CCRED, Johannesburg, 6th – 8th July 2020
Extended Abstract Submission deadline: 27th January 2020; 800-1000 words

A rich body of research has examined the prospects for development within 
global value chains (GVCs) and global production networks (GPNs), yet the 
implications of regional value chains (RVCs) have until recently been 
relatively overlooked. While regional patterns of trade have been observed 
since the early literature on GVCs and GPNs (e.g. Gereffi 1999; Yeung 2001), 
such research has largely focused on trade in intermediate goods which 
ultimately serve global markets. However, the expansion of end markets beyond 
the global North has involved a growth of regional end markets for final goods 
(Gereffi 2014; Baldwin and Lopez-Gonzalez 2015; Horner and Nadvi 2018, McKinsey 
2019), while the digital economy offers the potential for greater 
intra-regional trade. Regional trade integration has continued apace in recent 
years, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement a recent example 
(Signe and Van Der Ven; 2019). Given the barriers to accessing GVCs and small 
size of many domestic markets, reports by policy organisations such as the AU, 
IADB (2012), OECD (2014), SADC and EAC have expressed interest in regional 
value chains (RVCs) as a pathway to economic growth and diversification. Yet, 
to date, there has been insufficient research attention to the underlying 
trading dynamics or processes involved and as to whether RVCs may, or may not, 
offer better opportunities for producers and workers than participating in GVCs.

 This workshop builds on an emerging body of research which has begun to probe 
the developmental implications of RVCs, such as by unpacking the role of 
regional supermarkets in Africa and their sourcing strategies (Das Nair et al. 
2018; Krishnan 2018); exploring the implications of trade policy for regional 
value chains (Godfrey 2015; Pickles et al. 2015); and examining private 
standards in the context of overlapping RVCs and GVCs (Barrientos et al. 2016; 
Pickles et al. 2016); amongst others (e.g. Morris et al. 2011, 2016; Arndt and 
Roberts 2018, Scholvin et al. 2019).

 This workshop aims to interrogate RVCs and their developmental implications 
for people, industries, countries and regions. RVCs are understood as those in 
which lead firms supply markets in neighbouring and regional economies and 
source from regionally based suppliers. Empirical papers that are conceptually 
framed are invited. Indicative topics include, but are not limited to:

Potential for inclusionary development and greater participation, especially 
through the integration of micro and small enterprises, within RVCs
Implications of RVCs for economic, social and/or environmental upgrading or 
Lead firms and their business models in governing and organising regional value 
The development and implementation of product, labour and environmental 
Power dynamics and asymmetries within RVCs
The role of state policy in facilitating (e.g. through economic zones, 
financing) or hindering and regulating RVCs
The role of trade agreements and non-tariff barriers (incl. regional and 
bilateral) in promoting the expansion of RVCs
RVCs in the digital economy (e.g. through e-commerce, blockchains, regional 
platforms, big data)
How RVCs relate to, and potentially overlap with, global value chains (GVCs) 
and/or domestic value chains (DVCs) and how RVC actors navigate multiple end 

     We seek to address these issues through a small, focused two and a 
half-day workshop at the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic 
Development (CCRED), Johannesburg. We aim to produce a publication output in 
the form of a journal special issue from this event. Submission of full written 
papers is required prior to the workshop.

Extended Abstract Submission deadline: 27th January 2020; 800-1000 words

Confirmation of accepted abstracts:  9th February 2020
Full Paper Submission deadline:8th June 2020; Max. 8,000 words excl. abstract, 
notes, references etc.
Funding:  There is no fee to participate in this workshop. Some competitive 
funding is available to cover travel and accommodation, prioritising 
researchers based in the global South, as well as early career researchers. If 
you require funding, please provide a brief explanatory statement (maximum 500 
words) along with your extended abstract.

Submissions/queries: Aarti Krishnan ( & Reena 
Das Nair (

Organising team: Matthew Alford, Reena Das Nair, Rory Horner, Aarti Krishan, 
Khalid Nadvi, Thando Vilakazi, Stephanie Barrientos, Simon Roberts

Information available  at:

Selected References

Arndt, C. and S. J. Roberts (2018) Key issues in regional growth and 
integration in Southern Africa, Development Southern Africa, 35 (3), 297-314.

Barrientos, S., P. Knorringa, B. Evers, M. Visser and M. Opondo (2016) Shifting 
regional dynamics of global value chains: implications for economic and social 
upgrading in African horticulture, Environment and Planning A, 48 (7), 1266–83.

Black, A., L. Edwards, F. Ismail, B. Makundi and M. Morris (2019) Prospects and 
policies for the development of regional value chains in Southern Africa, WIDER 
Working Paper 2019/48. Helsinki, Finland: UNU-WIDER.

Das Nair, R., S. Chisoro, and F. Ziba (2018) The implications for suppliers of 
the spread of supermarkets in Southern Africa, Development Southern Africa, 35 
(3), 334-350.

Gereffi, G. (2014) Global value chains in a post-Washington Consensus world, 
Review of International Political Economy, 21 (1), 9–37.

Godfrey, S. (2015) Global, regional and domestic apparel value chains in 
southern Africa: social upgrading for some and downgrading for others, 
Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 8 (3), 491–504.

Horner, R. and K. Nadvi (2018) Global value chains and the rise of the global 
South: unpacking twenty-first century polycentric 
 Global Networks, 18 (2), 207-237

IADB (2012) Are global value chains really global? Policies to accelerate 
countries’ access to international production networks. Washington, DC: 
Inter-American Development Bank.

Krishnan, A. (2018) The origin and expansion of regional value chains: the case 
of Kenyan horticulture, Global Networks, 18 (2), 238-263.

McKinsey Global Institute (2019) Globalization in transition: the future of 
trade and value chains. Available from:;data=02%7C01%7CECONOMICGEOGRAPHY-L%40LISTSERV.UCONN.EDU%7C831ec6141da743a7abf608d79d6d8815%7C17f1a87e2a254eaab9df9d439034b080%7C0%7C1%7C637150966083089180&amp;sdata=FZ8Ufoi5%2BR2uTM8ob5QkrnbP3nfo9p3eUnhL30ZQRRA%3D&amp;reserved=0

Morris, M., C. Staritz and J. Barnes (2011) Value chain dynamics, local 
embeddedness, and upgrading in the clothing sectors of Lesotho and Swaziland, 
International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 4 
(1), 96-119.

Morris, M., C. Staritz, and L. Plank (2016) Regionalism, end markets and 
ownership matter: Shifting dynamics in the apparel export industry in sub 
Saharan Africa, Environment and Planning A, 48(7): 244–65.

OECD (2014) African economic outlook, Paris: Organisation for Economic 
Co-operation and Development.

Pickles, J., L. Plank, C. Staritz and A. Glasmeier (2015) Trade policy and 
regionalisms in global clothing production networks, Cambridge Journal of 
Regions, Economy and Society, 8 (3), 381-402.

Pickles, J., S. Barrientos and P. Knorringa (2016) New end markets, supermarket 
expansion and shifting social standards, Environment and Planning A, 48 (7), 

Scholvin, S., A. Black, J.R. Diez and I. Turok (2019) Value Chains in 
Sub-Saharan Africa, Springer.

Signe, C and C. van der Ven (2019) Key to success for the AfCFTA negotiations, 
Brookings Policy Brief: Africa Growth initiative. Available at;data=02%7C01%7CECONOMICGEOGRAPHY-L%40LISTSERV.UCONN.EDU%7C831ec6141da743a7abf608d79d6d8815%7C17f1a87e2a254eaab9df9d439034b080%7C0%7C1%7C637150966083089180&amp;sdata=UyQzBGQCxA8BsCR9h9H1rsPKO4pa1IQBRzzgigJMjiI%3D&amp;reserved=0

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