Who Is Running the Show in Global Value Chains? Rethinking the Role of Large First-Tier Suppliers in the Garments and Electronics Industry
Shamel Azmeh, Khalid Nadvi, and Gale Raj-Reichert
The role of large first tier suppliers to brands in global value chains is changing. Rather than the conventional image of powerless suppliers facing giant global brands that are capable of playing one supplier against the other and dominate the governance and value distribution in global value chains, large transnational first tier suppliers are emerging as powerful players in their own right and in different industries. First tier suppliers are not only playing a growing role in the organizational management and governance of the global supply chain but are also active in determining the geographical configurations and value capture further down value chains. Garments and electronics are two sectors where these trends are seen. The growing influence of these large first tier suppliers are important to consider given their ability to shape key outcomes within global value chains such as power relationships, labour conditions, environmental standards, and the overall map of global production. This paper discusses the changing role of these large suppliers in the two sectors and will highlight implications for future research on global value chain governance.
Keywords: global value chains, suppliers, governance, power