State policies and upgrading in global value chains: A systematic literature review

Valentina De Marchi, Matthew Alford

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the role of state policymaking in a context of global value chains (GVCs). While the literature acknowledges that states matter in GVCs, there is little understanding of how they matter from a policy perspective. We address this tension between theory and practice by first delineating the state’s facilitator, regulator, producer and buyer roles. We then explore the extent to which corresponding state policies enable or constrain the following policy objectives: GVC participation; value capture; and social and environmental upgrading. We do so via a systematic review of academic GVC literature, combined with analysis of seminal policy publications by International Organizations. Our findings indicate that state policymakers leverage facilitative strategies to achieve GVC participation and enhanced value capture; with regulatory and public procurement mechanisms adopted to address social and environmental goals. Mixed results also emerged, highlighting tensions between policies geared towards economic upgrading on the one hand, and social and environmental upgrading on the other. Finally, we suggest that effective state policies require a multi-scalar appreciation of GVC dynamics, working with multiple and sometimes competing stakeholders to achieve their developmental objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-111
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of International Business Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • downgrading
  • global production networks
  • global value chains
  • policies
  • policy-makers
  • state
  • upgrading


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