Title: Global value chains in the electronics industry: characteristics, crisis, and upgrading opportunities for firms from developing countries

Authors: Timothy J. Sturgeon, Momoko Kawakami

Addresses: Industrial Performance Centre (IPC), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 292 Main Street, E38-104, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. ' Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO), 3-2-2, Wakaba, Mihama-ku, Chiba, 261-8545, Japan

Abstract: In this paper, we apply global value chain (GVC) analysis to study recent trends in the global electronic hardware industry and their implications for upgrading opportunities for firms from developing countries. We identify three key firm level actors – lead firms, contract manufacturers, and platform leaders. Company, cluster, and country case studies are presented to illustrate how supplier capabilities in various places have developed in the context of electronics GVCs. The findings identify some of the persistent limits to upgrading experienced by even the most successful firms in the developing world. Four models used by developing country firms to overcome these limitations are presented: emerging multinationals, contract manufacturer spinoffs, platform brands and emerging factory-less start-ups. Each of these new models has been enabled, to a greater or lesser degree, by the rise of new markets and new kinds of consumers in developing countries.

Keywords: value chain modularity; offshoring; outsourcing; globalisation; China; Taiwan; Mexico; global value chains; GVCs; electronics industry; developing countries; electronic hardware; upgrading.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTLID.2011.041902

International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 2011 Vol.4 No.1/2/3, pp.120 - 147

Published online: 31 Jan 2015 *

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