Global and Local Governance of Clusters in the Extended Supplier Networks of Cotton Garments Sold in the UK and Produced in India

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.2.01 (Tower One)
Rachel Alexander, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Global production networks (GPNs) often involve multiple clusters interacting with each other in the course of the production of manufactured goods. Clusters involved in contributing to the production of a manufactured product can be considered as being connected in an extended supplier network (ESN) for that product. When looking at the membership of an ESN, a variety of clusters may specialize in creating individual component parts of finished goods, carrying out successive transformations to raw materials or conducting the final product assembly. Past research has looked at the roles of lead firms in governing the activities of clusters that house businesses involved with GPNs (Humphrey and Schmitz 2002; Giuliani, Pietrobelli et al. 2005). This work moves forward in this vein by considering the different types of governance different clusters experience while being members of the same ESN. These clusters may be responsible for different production activities, sell to different types of buyers with varying levels of contact with lead firms and be located in different contexts facing diverse governance pressures. Exploring the governance systems surrounding these clusters can help to develop a better understanding of the roles lead firms play in governing cluster-based activities. Garments are a product whose production has been seen as buyer driven (Gereffi 1999) with brands and retailers acting as lead firms playing a large role in governing activities of producers. This paper will look at three clusters involved in the Indian branch of the ESN of cotton garments sold by major UK retailers and compare the involvement of lead firm governance with other governance forces at the cluster level. The clusters considered are a textile processing cluster, located in Tirupur, which specializes in dying fabrics for export garments; a yarn spinning cluster in Coimbatore; and a garment cluster in Delhi, which specializes in manufacturing clothing for export markets. Analysis is based on data from primary fieldwork along with secondary sources which is used to explore the different roles that are played by local and global governance forces in each of these clusters.