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Reconsidering the role of the digital in global production networks


Global Networks

Published online on


Global production networks (GPNs) have become a key framework in conceptualizing linkages, power and structure in globalized production. However, this framework has been less successful in integrating the influence of digital information and ICTs in production, and this problematic in a world where relationships and power are increasingly mediated by digital information flows and resources. We thus look to adapt the GPN framework to allow more substantive analysis of ‘the digital’. Primarily, this is done through a theoretical analysis of the three core categories of the GPN framework – embeddedness, value and networks – to highlight how these categories can better integrate a more dynamic and contested conceptualization of the digital. Illustrations from research on the digitalization of tea sector GPNs in East Africa highlight how these theoretical advances provide new insights on the digital and its expanding role in economic production.