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School of Business and Management

Regional Value Chains and Governance of Decent Work in Sub Saharan Africa

When: Thursday, March 23, 2023, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Where: QB-210, Mile End

Speaker: Matthew Alford, University of Manchester

Global value chain (GVC) research has long examined private governance by Northern lead firms. Analytically the literature has shifted from examining lead firm governance towards examining power relations under more diverse forms of governance involving public and private actors. A parallel literature highlights expanding domestic and regional value chains (DVCs/RVCs) that intersect with GVCs, and increasing role of Southern lead firms in shaping governance. However, we have limited understanding of the implications for the relation between public and private governance of decent work within expanding DVCs and RVCs within the global South. This presentation draws on cross-country and sectoral analysis of horticultural and garments DVCs/RVCs in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It focuses on horticultural production in South Africa and Kenya, and garments production in South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho. The following questions are addressed: What are the implications of expanding DVCs and RVCs in SSA for public-private governance of decent work? Who or what are the drivers of governance across expanding DVCs and RVCs in SSA?

Matthew Alford’s research interrogates questions of development in the context of globalization, transnational trading networks and labour. More specifically, he focuses on the role of nation states in governing labour, and how public regulations interact with lead-firm driven private codes of conduct and civil society initiatives across geographical scales. Another strand of research explores labour agency, and the evolving strategies adopted by workers in contesting their conditions in global production networks (GPNs). He has investigated these issues in the context of agricultural and garments value chains spanning Sub-Saharan Africa. I earned his PhD in International Development from the Global Development Institute (GDI), and am currently employed as Senior Lecturer in International Business and Management at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), University of Manchester.

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