Economic and social upgrading in global production networks: A new paradigm for a changing world


  • The authors wish to thank Joonkoo Lee, Anne Posthuma and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on this article.

  • Responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles rests solely with their authors, and publication does not constitute an endorsement by the ILO.


A key challenge in promoting decent work worldwide is how to improve the position of both firms and workers in value chains and global production networks driven by lead firms. This article develops a framework for analysing the linkages between the economic upgrading of firms and the social upgrading of workers. Drawing on studies which indicate that firm upgrading does not necessarily lead to improvements for workers, with a particular focus on the Moroccan garment industry, it outlines different trajectories and scenarios to provide a better understanding of the relationship between economic and social upgrading.