Global value chains, private governance and multiple end-markets: insights from Kenyan leather

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This article analyses how the private governance of global value chains (GVCs) varies across multiple end-markets. This is explored through a two-stage mixed-methods analysis of Kenya’s participation in leather value chains serving Europe, China, India, and the COMESA region. We first draw on transaction-level customs data to analyse private governance in terms of the stability of buyer-supplier interactions and presence of intermediaries. We then interrogate these results through supplier interviews. Our article highlights the combined role of product specifications and trust in shaping private governance, and heterogeneity of GVCs across the global North and South, as well as within the South. It further questions commonly held assumptions that lower quality products (generally characterising Southern end-markets) are necessarily governed by market-based coordination mechanisms. We therefore challenge links established in the GVC literature between product standards and private governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-157
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • End-markets
  • Global value chains
  • Governance
  • Kenya
  • Leather
  • M
  • O
  • Transaction-level customs data

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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