Multipolar governance and social upgrading in the international services value chains: The case of support-service workers in Mumbai

Randhir Kumar & Niels Beerepoot (2019)

Geoforum, first online

Abstract. A prominent theme in research on global value chains/global production networks is whether economic upgrading in global production networks has been accompanied by social upgrading for the workers involved. This paper aims to contribute to this debate by examining social upgrading among the support-service workers indirectly working for premier international ICT-ITES (Information and Communication Technology-Information Technology Enabled Services) firms in Mumbai (India). By using various Decent-Work indicators, this paper empirically assesses the work and employment conditions of the support-service workers engaged in housekeeping and cab-service segments catering to ICT-ITES firms. Building on the concept of multipolar governance, this paper highlights how at the intersection of two value chains a governance vacuum emerges which limits social upgrading for support-service workers.

Excerpt. “In this paper, conventions refer to the common normative frameworks, devised by either lead ICT-ITES firms, supplier firms, state government or civil society, that guide how labour standards are set, transferred and complied with. At the meso level, principal forms of conventions that shape value chain governance include: (I) “domestic conventions” (based on trust, loyalty and longerterm relations between value chain actors), (II) “industrial conventions” (based on operational standardization and private certification that guide value chain exchanges) and (III) “civic conventions” (based on common interests and standards in society) which explain how coordination takes place between firms in value chains2 (see Ponte and Sturgeon, 2014; Karlsen, 2018).”

(p. 3)

Link to the review


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