John Humphrey

John Humphrey
University of Sussex · University of Sussex Business School

PhD

About

131
Publications
103,356
Reads
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16,350
Citations
Citations since 2016
17 Research Items
7476 Citations
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Introduction
I have been working on governance in global value chains for almost 2 decades. This work has included work on the way in which private standards impact on value chain governance. I continue to work in this field. More recently, I have begun to examine governance in the context of platforms (not only consumer/market- oriented platforms (eBay, Uber, Facebook etc.) but also software platforms (gaming platforms, Google Play, etc.) and product platforms.
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
October 2015 - December 2018
University of Sussex
Position
  • Professor
October 1987 - September 2015
Institute of Development Studies
Position
  • Professorial Fellow
October 1987 - September 2015
Insttute of Development Studies
Position
  • Fellow

Publications

Publications (131)
Technical Report
GVC governance theory explains the management of interfirm relationships in the context of offshoring and outsourcing in the latter part of the 20th century. It emphasises the power of lead firms to shape the new global supply chains that were developed at this time. Parsimonious theorising combined with lead firm power has led to criticisms that t...
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The COVID-19 pandemic will likely lead to some significant shifts in the global industrial economy. The extensive lockdown measures and the resulting demand collapse in Europe may trigger structural transformations in the region’s automotive sector. We may expect an unequal impact of the crisis on smaller firms involved in complex automotive supply...
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Over the past decades, the world economy has seen an increasing geographical and organizational fragmentation of manufacturing production. Activities have been divided up across different locations and firms, creating new global economic interdependencies. In the early weeks of the COVID-19 epidemic, these linkages led to a rapid transmission of th...
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to clarify the distinction between Global Value Chains and selected strands of the business literature: business networks, strategy, and international business. These four research areas have starting questions that are often different and the audiences they address also differ. There have been attempts to est...
Chapter
Increasing fragmentation in the global economy has been accompanied by a rise in the use of private standards. Technical standards created by companies and standards writing organizations facilitate coordination and enable elaborate divisions of labor of the sort evident in the electronics industry. Standards are also used for control. Private stan...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Current transformations in food consumption and food trade have allowed greatly increased food exports from developing countries and also shifted the composition of exports towards high-value foods that offer better opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods. Transformations in the domestic markets of developing countries ar...
Book
This file contains the introduction and contents list to a collection of global value chain articles selected by John Humphrey and published by Edward Elgar in 2017.
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In this paper, we suggest that internalization theory might be extended by incorporating complementary insights from GVC theory. More specifically, we argue that internalization theory can explain why lead firms might wish to externalize selected activities, but that it is largely silent on the mechanisms by which those lead firms might exercise co...
Article
We compare the evolution of the mobile phone and electric two-wheeler sectors in China. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Chinese firms have used technologies bundled into platforms to meet the needs of low-income Chinese consumers. The possibilities of downstream innovation opened up by platforms were not pursued. This paper shows h...
Chapter
Michida, Humphrey and Nabeshima summarize the main ideas in the collection and the contribution of each of the papers. Focusing specifically on food safety standards and product-related environmental regulations (PRERs) adopted in the EU, they argue that these regulations and standards have increased in stringency and have extended the use of the p...
Chapter
Humphrey analyses trends in public regulations and private standards in three areas: sustainability standards in forest management, standards for food safety and product-related environmental regulations for chemicals. He explains why private standards have expanded their role in regulating trade, and also emphasizes the continuing role of public r...
Book
This book evaluates the evolution of regulatory policy in advanced countries and discusses how policy changes in one country can affect other nations in a globalized world. Separated in two parts, the first half of the book focuses on policy in developed countries and regulatory diffusion from Europe to Asia. The second part looks at the business i...
Book
A case study of the largest industrial concentration in Latin America, this work shows how the unique situation of auto workers led them to articulate demands relevant for the whole working class. By exploring a concrete situation in two specific plants, the author clarifies the nature of work in modern industry. Originally published in. The Prince...
Article
Policymakers are increasingly seeking to use food systems to help reduce rates of chronic undernutrition and to use markets to deliver nutrient-rich foods to vulnerable populations. This article examines how this might be achieved, drawing lessons from three intervention types: ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs), mandatory fortification and vol...
Technical Report
Full-text available
There is an urgent need to reduce alarming rates of undernutrition in Tanzania. This report analyses options for policies and interventions to improve the functioning of markets that deliver nutrient-dense foods. Currently, a set of constraints inhibit businesses from making nutrient-dense foods that reach the poor. These constraints affect busines...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report details the findings of an analysis of value chains for several nutrient-dense foods in Tanzania. It rapidly assesses the potential of ten commodities to contribute to reducing undernutrition and identifies three with particularly high potential. It then systematically examines issues at the various stages of these value chains, in orde...
Article
It is now commonplace for development policy makers to refer to the contributions of businesses to the achievement of development goals and the importance of collaborations between businesses and development agencies. Many businesses give greater attention to the development impacts of their activities. There has been relatively little systematic a...
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PurposeTo identify points of similarity and differences of emphasis between internalisation theory and global value chain (GVC) theory and to highlight how the latter’s particular approach is useful in analysing the impact of private sustainability standards. MethodologyReview of some key texts and reviews of internalisation theory combined with au...
Article
Food safety standards for the production of fruit and vegetables that are developed and administered by private sector actors have become a common requirement for producers and exporters of fresh produce in the past two decades. Instead of relying on inspection after produce has been harvested, preventive controls identify sources of food safety ri...
Article
Private standards relating to food safety have become an important element in trade in fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly in Europe. Discussions of the positive and negative impacts of such standards on farmers in developing countries are associated with the way they are implemented and enforced, with particular emphasis being placed on how t...
Chapter
IDS gave little attention to issues of women and gender when it was founded. But in the 1970s, a programme of research and activist involvement was started, initially led by Kate Young, with the challenging title of The Subordination of Women. Gradually gender became an ever more important part of IDS work, covering research and teaching, and estab...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, Timothy Sturgeon, John Humphrey, and Gary Gereffi analyze the co-evolutionary character of market making, in which the initial trials with global sourcing in the 1970s and 1980s by a few retailers helped spur the development of an increasingly competent group of contract manufacturers mainly located in East Asia. These contractors...
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The increasing prevalence of private standards governing food safety, food quality and environmental and social impacts of agri-food systems has raised concerns about the effects on developing countries, as well as the governance of agri-food value chains more broadly. It is argued that current debates have been 'clouded' by a failure to recognise...
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Value chain interventions are increasingly popular amongst donors aiming to promote market-oriented growth and poverty reduction. Based on the reflections of the community of practice itself and extensive desk research, this review critically examines the causal models underlying value chain interventions and asks how and to what extent their pover...
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Full-text available
Project funded under the Socioeconomic Sciences and Humanities theme i John Humphrey is Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton (UK). He has an inter-disciplinary background in sociology and economics. He has 25 years experience in research, research management and teaching in development studies. He is a member of t...
Article
One of the widely-predicted consequences of the global financial crisis is a shortage of trade finance that will exacerbate declines in trade volumes. Many commentators and policymakers have predicted such a shortage, and the G20 London Summit committed to substantial increases in trade finance. Should development practitioners be concerned about w...
Article
Rising wages and an appreciating exchange rate currency forced Korean exporters of manufactured goods to try to move up-market at the end of the 1980s. This involves improving both product specification and conformance to standards. The Korean government is actively promoting improved quality systems in manufacturing as a means of enhancing competi...
Article
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was established by Article 12 of of the Kyoto Protocol and is intended to attract private sector involvement, either through investment aimed at generating saleable certified emission reductions (CERs), or through the purchase of these CERs by companies who have their own emissions obligations. It is also inten...
Article
The size, rapid growth and increasing prestige of India and China will create a new multipolar power constellation that will define global governance in the coming decades. It will pose challenges at three levels. The challenge for developed countries will be to work with self-confident and often demanding partners that are likely to challenge esta...
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This article addresses the issue of how broad a reinvention of development studies needs to be, It argues that development studies has been continuously reinvented in the past 40 years, but that in order to continue to be relevant in the next 40-50 years, three challenges need to be addressed, First, the basic assumption of the discipline - that th...
Article
Over the last 30 years, changes in the East and Southeast Asian region have been fast and deep. China is the growth engine of a new regional production system which in turn has provoked changes in many other parts of the world. For its own fast growth, China has relied heavily on importing intermediate products from neighbouring countries, but this...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Food safety has moved up the policy agenda in industrialised countries in recent years. Governments have tightened both product and process standards, and businesses have had to respond to ever more stringent public food safety standards and the need to maintain consumer confidence. Private voluntary standards developed by groups of companies are o...
Article
Much of international trade is coordinated by the lead firms of Global Value Chains (GVCs) and regulated through global standards. The way in which this global governance is exercised has a significant impact on the organisation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) clusters and their upgrading opportunities. This paper is particularly concer...
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— The size and rapid growth of China, together with its increasing assertiveness, repre- sent a challenge to the established global order. The dynamics and the future impacts of these power shifts for the architecture of global governance and the developing world are far from clear and not at all determined. An analysis of China's participation in...
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Changing competitive conditions in Brazilian industry are leading companies to seek Japanese management techniques as a means of rapidly raising productivity and quality. Macroeconomic instability, low levels of educational achievement and poor labour relations would seem to present barriers to the use of these techniques. Case studies of firms in...
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An extensive literature on the transformation of food retailing in developing countries by the expansion of supermarkets has highlighted the implications of the concentration of food value chains for the continued incorporation of small farmers in fresh produce supply. A critical examination of this literature shows that extent of the transformatio...
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Production and export of non-traditional agricultural products offer potential for economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. However, market access for small farmers is being undermined by the increasing complexity of global value chains in agribusiness. Increasing vertical coordination in global agribusiness value chains chang...
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The extent of poverty reduction in Asia by 2015 will depend upon two linked issues: sustaining the current rates of economic growth and avoiding increases in income inequality. Rapid growth over the past 15 years has itself created three challenges for its continuation: inadequate infrastructure; energy shortages and insecurity; and depletion of na...
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The paper opens by mapping the changes in the global auto industry in the 1990s, showing how the rapid growth in sales and production between 1990 and 1997 came largely from the emerging markets rather than the Triad regions (North America, the European Union and Japan). However, for some of these markets the downturn that followed was substantial...
Article
This article reflects the combined efforts of the IDS Asian Drivers Team, based on discussions held with collaborators from the South, Europe and the US. As such, there is no single author. It addresses the components of a globally networked developing research programme addressing a series of inter-related theoretical and policy challenges arising...
Article
Horticulture provides real opportunities for enhancing farm incomes and reducing poverty in the developing countries. Nevertheless, three trends challenge the ability of developing country producers to access global horticulture markets: the globalisation of sourcing horticultural products, concentration in developed country retailing, and the incr...
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This article builds a theoretical framework to help explain governance patterns in global value chains. It draws on three streams of literature – transaction costs economics, production networks, and technological capability and firm-level learning – to identify three variables that play a large role in determining how global value chains are gover...
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Full-text available
The global value chains consist of the global trade in parts and components often involved in manufacturing and agriculture. The question asked is whether global production systems increase or hinder the development of developing countries with regard to sustainable increases in income, employment, technological diffusion, and already existent deve...
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Over the past twenty years the marketing of African fresh vegetables in the United Kingdom has become dominated by large retailers that have adopted competitive strategies based on quality, year-round supply, and product differentiation. This has led to a dramatic change in marketing channels, from wholesale markets to tightly knit supply chains. G...
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In Kenya, exports of fresh vegetables have grown rapidly in the past decade, but the employment impact of this business has been changing as a result of market conditions in the major export destination, the United Kingdom. Continued rapid growth in overall exports, an increase in post-harvest processing, a switch from smallholder production to exp...
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Full-text available
Development agencies have emphasised the potential of business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce to reduce barriers to entry to global markets for small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. E-marketplaces would allow firms to buy and sell online, reaching customers across the world at low cost. A study of B2B e-marketplaces and the use...
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Full-text available
The paper opens by mapping the changes in the global auto industry in the 1990s, showing how the rapid growth in sales and production between 1990 and 1997 came largely from the emerging markets rather than the Triad regions (North America, the European Union and Japan). However, for some of these markets the downturn that followed was substantial...
Article
The automotive industries of emerging markets were transformed in the 1990s by trade liberalization and large investments by global assemblers. The impact of these investments was decisively influenced by government policies aimed at promoting local production and assembly of vehicles and by changing assembler—supplier relationships in the global a...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Based on research on e-marketplaces in the garments and horticulture sectors and on the experiences of firms in Bangladesh, Kenya and South Africa, this study examines the expectations and assumptions behind the drive to invest in B2B e-commerce. It investigates what actually happens in Internet-based e-marketplaces and how developing country firms...
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Humphrey J. and Schmitz H. (2002) How does insertion in global value chains affect upgrading in industrial clusters?, Reg. Studies 36, 1017-1027. What is the scope for local upgrading strategies where producers operate in global value chains? The literature on industrial clusters emphasizes the role of inter-firm co-operation and local institutions...
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This paper has been written for the ILO's In Focus Programme on Small
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of the IDS, University of Sussex, with whom he collaborated on a multi-country "B2B E-Commerce for Developing Countries" research project.
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This article documents and analyses the organization of work and human resources management in ten manufacturing plants in Malaysia and three plants in Japan. Each of the plants carries out specific tasks within an emergent international division of labour surrounding two Japanese multinational producers of consumer electronics goods. Plant roles r...
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Globalisation has become a catchword for the international economy at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The increasing importance of export-oriented industrialisation has made integration into the global economy virtually synonymous with development for a number of nations. However, there is an acute awareness that the gains from globalisa...
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The concept of 'governance' is central to the global value chain approach. This article explains what it means and why it matters for development research and policy. The concept is used to refer to the interfirm relationships and institutional mechanisms through which non-market co-ordination of activities in the chain takes place. This co-ordinat...
Article
Governments in developing countries continue actively to promote the auto industry. However, the benefits derived from this industry are changing as a result of global restructuring. The key relationships in the auto industry are between the major assemblers and a small number of first-tier suppliers with global reach. The latter are increasingly r...
Article
Production of fresh vegetables for export has grown rapidly in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade. This trade brings producers and exporters based in Africa together with importers and retailers in Europe. Large retailers in Europe play a decisive role in structuring the production and processing of fresh vegetables ex...
Chapter
For much of the 1990s, vehicle production and sales grew rapidly in the emerging markets, while the vehicle markets of the Triad economies stagnated. From 1990 to 1997, vehicle sales in the major emerging markets grew by 92 per cent, and production by 99 per cent. Over the same period, sales and production in the Triad economies rose by 1 per cent...
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Over the past decade, a substantial amount of FDI has been channelled into the motor industries of the emerging markets. New investments in the emerging markets have become strategic not only for the assemblers but also for first-tier suppliers, and the subsidiaries of transnational companies in these markets have become more closely integrated int...
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The role of trust in facilitating economic growth has been highlighted in previous contributions to this journal. In order to take this debate forward, this article argues (1) that more attention needs to be given to the relationship between sanctions and trust, and (2) that it is worth distinguishing between the minimal trust for making markets ef...
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In both developed and developing countries there is mounting evidence that clustering and networking help small- and medium-sized manufacturers to raise their competitiveness. The role of public policy in this process is less clear. The European experience suggests that local and regional government can play an important role. Equally, if not more,...
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It is often argued that during recession women and children are put into the labour market in order to maintain household incomes. They are forced into low‐paid jobs in the informal sector. Evidence from Sao Paulo suggests a different picture. During recession young people withdrew from the labour market. Adult female participation rates did increa...
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Latin American scholars have shown considerable interest in the spread of Japanese methods in the continent and their potential impact on labour. Evidence from case studies shows intensive use of techniques such as multitasking, team-working, statistical process control and cellular manufacture. In some cases, firms have invested heavily in educati...
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Trust-based relations appear to foster development, mistrust undermines it. High-trust and low-trust societies are easily recognizable, but how to promote trust as part of a development strategy is less obvious. This paper provides a non-calculative definition of trust and distinguishes between the minimum trust required for basic economic transact...
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Las empresas en América Latina están respondiendo a un entorno cada vez más competitivo, reconsiderando el conjunto de sus estrategias manufactureras y empresariales. Los dos puntos de referencia para la estrategia competitiva son los sistemas just in time y total quality desarrollados en Japón, y la agrupación de pequeñas empresas de acuerdo con e...
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The success of Japanese industry and of some industries in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy in the 1970s and 1980s has stimulated interest in new models of industrial organization. Interest in applying such models in developing countries is increasing rapidly. Evidence from developing countries shows that models are a useful starting point, but t...
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For a long period, the consensus in development studies argued that the unemployed in urban areas were not part of the poverty problem. It was argued in the 1970s that open unemployment in developing countries was not, in general, a serious social problem. This was not because rates of open unemployment were low in urban areas – Turnham cited open...
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This article considers the impact on labour of the introduction of Japanese‐style production management. Evidence from industrialised countries is used to argue that the impact of Japanese‐style production management depends on union activities, labour market conditions and the internal control mechanisms developed by management. Evidence from a st...
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FerrazJoão Carlos, RushHoward and MilesIan, Development Technology and Flexibility: Brazil faces the industrial divide (London and New York: Routlege, 1992), pp. xxiii + 274. - Volume 25 Issue 3 - John Humphrey
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Full-text available
O artigo analisa as relações entre a esfera doméstica c a esfera do trabalho profissional, levando em conta a divisão social e sexual do trabalho. Procura mostrar até que ponto as estruturas e as relações familiares têm influência sobre a atividade econômica das mulheres e dos homens e também até que ponto esta última pode ter uma influência sobre...

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