Environmental upgrading and suppliers' agency in the leather global value chain

Valentina de Marchi, Eleonora di Maria

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The paper explores the role of suppliers in the process of environmental upgrading (EnvU) within global value chains (GVCs). Theoretical contributions to EnvU have highlighted, in particular, the role of global buyers in supporting the EnvU of products and processes, while limited attention has been given to suppliers as proactive actors within GVCs. This paper approaches EnvUthrough the lens of innovation and focuses on the agency of suppliers. Through the analysis of innovations developed within the leather GVC, with a special focus on the Arzignano cluster (Italy), the analysis shows how suppliers can autonomously develop sustainability strategies to maintain their competitiveness and achieve higher value in the GVC. However, results stress the limits of green strategies as buyers and suppliers do not share the same vision of how to foster sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6530
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Circular economy
  • Environmental upgrading
  • Innovation
  • Leather
  • Supplier
  • Sustainability


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