This article applies a global production networks (GPN) perspective to the trans-border investments of Taiwanese personal computer (PC) companies in the Northern Taiwan, Greater Suzhou and Greater Dongguan regions. The findings of extensive field research are used to illustrate two conceptual arguments. First, we show the on-the-ground complexity of inter-firm governance arrangements within the PC industry, thereby casting doubt upon attempts to reduce notions of governance to simplistic, industry-wide categorisations. Second, by comparing Greater Suzhou and Greater Dongguan, we demonstrate that even within a single production system, there is geographical variation in the nature of the strategic coupling between the GPN and local institutional formations. We argue that conceptualising such geographical and organisational complexity is critical to understanding the regional development potential of GPNs. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.