Competitiveness and Technological Upgrading in Global Value Chains: Evidence from the Indonesian Electronics and Garment Sectors

Yohanes Kadarusman, Khalid Nadvi

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Indonesia is a rapidly growing and internationally competitive economy that is well integrated into globalized production systems. The global value chain (GVC) model has proven to be a popular analytical framework to explain how global lead firms structure and organize global production through dispersed global suppliers. Indonesia's leading export sectors, garments and electronics, are well integrated into GVCs. Engagement in GVCs, often led by leading global brands, is seen as a basis for local producers to become globally competitive and to grow. It also comes with challenges-local producers must meet the demanding pressures from lead firms on prices, on-time delivery, product quality, and social, environmental and labour standards. The possibilities for local producers to learn, acquire new capabilities and upgrade to enhance their competitiveness are often conditioned by the nature of ties that they have with their global lead firms. Yet, this paper argues, the GVC model fails to recognize agency on the part of local firms in this learning process. Moreover, particular forms of governance arrangements within GVC ties can restrict the prospects for local producers to enhance capabilities and upgrade. Drawing on selected case study evidence from the Indonesian garments and electronics sectors, the paper explores the relationship between distinct types of GVC engagements and firm-level learning and upgrading, and considers how some GVC ties may restrict upgrading. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1028
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Globalisation; Technological Upgrading; Global Value Chains; Firm Learning; Electronics; Garments; Indonesia.

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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