The role of law in global value chains: a research manifesto

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Grietje Baars et al., The Role of Law in Global Value Chains: A Research Manifesto, 4 London Rev. Int'l L. 57 (2016)

Abstract

Most scholars attribute the development and ubiquity of global value chains to economic forces, treating law as an exogenous factor, if at all. By contrast, we assert the centrality of legal regimes and private ordering mechanisms to the creation, structure, geography, distributive effects and governance of Global Value Chains (GVCs), and thereby seek to establish the study of law and GVCs as rich and important terrain for research in its own right. This article seeks to establish the importance for both scholars and policymakers of investigating some of the complex ways in which the law shapes and is shaped by GVCs. The research agenda articulated here emerged from a series of ongoing conversations among a group of legal scholars, sociologists and political economists that first met in June 2014 under the auspices of the IGLP at Harvard University. For the most part, legal scholarship has only summarily or incidentally analysed GVCs, and similarly, GVCs scholars outside law have not made law a focal point of their theoretical or empirical analyses. We believe that placing law at the centre of the analysis of what have historically been treated as primarily 'economic structures' will not only enrich our understanding of the shape, nature and dynamic character of GVCs, but will also help to illuminate the complex inter-relationship between law and global political economy more broadly. Our goal is to invite scholars in law and related disciplines to begin to view the study of law and global production as an important and worthy field of research in its own right.