Innovation and value chains

IDS' work on innovation and value chains explores opportunities for poor people to enhance their income when businesses in developing countries participate in global value chains.

Workers on a kettle production line in a household electronics factory, producing goods for both the Chinese and export market. Guangdong Province. Credit: Mark Henley / Panos

IDS work on global value chains has explored how businesses in developing countries are increasingly tied into trans-national networks of firms that coordinate the design, production and sale of products around the world. In the past four decades there has been a significant transfer of manufacturing activities to developing countries, which has created jobs. However, to increase the benefits of participation in global value chains, firms in developing countries have to acquire the capabilities to produce more sophisticated products and take on additional functions along the value chain.

The same value chain diagnostic tools and perspectives on how firms link together to produce goods can be applied in national settings to explore how to promote business linkages and expand market opportunities for poor people.

IDS work on innovation and value chains is exploring:

Business Innovation Facility

The Business Innovation Facility (BIF) aims to catalyse market systems change in order to benefit poor producers, consumers and employees More details

Changing Knowledge Divide in the Global Economy

The question driving this project was how was the 'organisational decomposition of the innovation process' (ODIP) changing the global distribution of innovation activities. More details

Clusters in the Global Economy

While the debate on industrial clusters and local innovation systems was mainly concerned with local linkages, this work examined global linkages and how they affected local relationships. More details

Comparison of Upgrading in Global and National Value Chains

An analysis of whether firms in the Southern Brazilian clusters of the Sinos Valley (footwear) and the Serra Gaucha (furniture) show different patterns of industrial upgrading according to the global and national value chains they feed into. More details

Framework for Assessing the Impacts of Efforts to Enhance Access to Nutritious Foods

The objective of this research is to develop capacity and an analytical approach for the analysis of value chains-based initiatives aimed at enhancing access and consumption of nutritious foods by the poor and to use this learning to develop research proposals on leveraging value chains for nutrition. More details

Global Brands from China?

A comparative study of the acquisition of branding capabilities in domestic and global value chains. More details

Global Power Shift and Low Carbon Transformation

Two transformations are likely to dominate the first half of the twenty-first century. One is the shift in economic power from the West (North America and Western Europe) to the East (China and the East Asian production system). The second is the transition from a high to low carbon economy. More details

Outsourcing and Innovation in the Indian Software Industry

This research investigated whether the capabilities associated with the basic 'production' of software had led to increasing 'innovation' capabilities after the turn of the millennium. More details

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change is developing a framework to analyse alternative pathways that link different forms of technological innovation, and evaluate resulting structural change and inclusion outcomes in low-income countries. More details

Policy Instruments and Public-Private Collaborations

The collaboration will assess policy approaches to economic inclusion of highly marginalised populations (displaced, indigenous, Afro-Colombian, extremely poor) in agricultural value chains in Colombia. It will focus on a key policy instrument – public-private partnerships – and on approaches that support stabilisation in post-conflict regions. More details

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Agriculture: Enabling Factors and Impact on the Rural Poor

This research will identify the key factors driving the effectivness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) at bringing sustained increases in income for smallholder farmers at scale and delivering positive development outcomes across rural communities. More details

Rent Management: the Heart of Green Industrial Policy

At the heart of green industrial policy is rent management: government creating and withdrawing opportunities for highly profitable investment. This project asks what the key factors are for rent management to succeed. More details

Research on the Poverty Impact of Market and Enabling Business Environment Programmes in Kenya

To what extent does private sector development work in Kenya contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality? This review aims to assess the evidence base for DFID Kenya’s Wealth Creation Pillar programming. More details

SMEs, Multinational Value Chains and 'Pro-poor' Policies Review

This review examined a range of donor initiatives that adopted a value chain aproach as part of their policy package for promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises. More details

Success Factors for Lead Firms to Shape Inclusive Procurement

This consultancy examines best practices both operationally and in the literature surrounding business models from the view point of inclusivity of smallholder farmers More details

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Inclusive Structural Change: Case Studies on Innovations in Breeding Practices in Kenya and Anti-Retroviral Therapy Service Provision in Mozambique

IDS Working Paper 505 (2018)

Innovation, accompanied by structural change, is at the heart of economic growth and development. Yet there is limited evidence to understand interactions between innovation, structural change and inclusion in the context of low-income and emerging countries, or how these processes best support sustainable and inclusive societies. More details


Public–Private Cooperation for Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies

IDS Policy Briefing 146 (2017)

How do public–private collaborations enable secure and inclusive rural economies? Alongside private sector investment, government provision of infrastructure, research and extension services and support for farmer organisations remains crucial. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Inclusive Innovation, Development and Policy: Four Key Themes

IDS Bulletin 47.2A (2016)

Building on these ideas from the IDS 50th Anniversary Conference in July 2016, this article links them with the Heeks Ladder of Inclusive Innovation to discuss the prospects for further inclusive innovation and development. More details

image for non-ids publications

The Political Economy of Sugar in Southern Africa: Introduction

Journal of Southern African Studies (2016)

In this introductory paper we review historic and contemporary development of sugar cane production across the southern Africa. We argue that the region’s sugar industry provides a useful lens through which to understand current dynamics of corporate capital and agricultural production in Africa. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Enhancing Innovation in Livestock Value Chains through Networks: Lessons from Fodder Innovation Case Studies in Developing Countries

This chapter is taken from the book 'Innovation for Inclusive Value Chain Development: Successes and Challenges'. The chapter analyses the strategies and results of programs hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to improve farmers’ welfare in Ethiopia, Syria, and Vietnam by integrating fodder production into their livestock systems. More details

Publication cover for the GAIN-IDS Discussion Paper Nutritious Agriculture by Design: A Tool for Program Planning.

Nutritious Agriculture by Design: A Tool for Program Planning - a GAIN-IDS Discussion Paper

This Discussion Paper accompanies a new Program Planning tool entitled Nutritious Agriculture by Design. The tool places a nutritional focus on agricultural programmes by providing a framework for programme designers and implementers to guide and adjust agricultural interventions through improved linkages with nutrition. More details

IDS publications on international development research

China's Impact on the Global Wind Power Industry

Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 1/2013 (2013)

China's economic rise has transformed the global economy in a number of manufacturing industries. This paper investigates whether China's transformative influence extends to the new green economy. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Brazilian Innovation in the Global Automotive Value Chain: Role of the Network of Multinational Companies and Local Suppliers

This book analyses the spread of Brazilian innovation activities in the automotive global value chain. More details

IDS publications on international development research

PEACH - Methodology

The purpose of this note to make some practical suggestions for carrying out the project Political Economy Analysis of Climate Change Policies - the PEACH project. The central question of the project is who drives/obstructs climate change policies in the rising powers. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Inter-Firm Linkages and Finance in Value Chains

IDB Working Paper 349 (2012)

This paper examines the impact of inter-firm linkages and specifically interactions with large firms on SMEs' access to finance. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Lessons Learned and Ways Forward - Pathways to Protection – Referral Mechanisms and Case Management for Vulnerable Children in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a need for a more comprehensive and systematic response, of which referral mechanisms and case management are crucial elements. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Innovation in Livestock Value Chains: Lessons from Fodder Adoption Case Studies in Developing Countries

Science and Public Policy 39.3 (2012)

This paper discusses how fodder technologies and knowledge have been introduced and integrated in diverse livestock production systems in Ethiopia, Syria and Vietnam. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Codex Alimentarius and Private Standards

A key trend in the governance of global agri-food value chains in the last 10 to 15 years is the increasing prevalence of private standards. This chapter focuses on private standards relating to food safety, whilst recognising that private standards also govern other attributes of agri-food products. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Value Chains, Inclusion and Endogenous Development: Contrasting Theories and Realities

Lead firms, development organisations, donors and governments view value chains and voluntary standards as vital instruments for achieving millennium development goals through trade and market-related interventions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Understanding the Complexities of Private Standards in Global Agri-Food Chains as They Impact Developing Countries

Journal of Development Studies 46.9 (2010)

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. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Fairtrade Bananas: A Global Assessment of Impact

When the idea of conversion of the conventional banana trade to a more sustainable system under the Fairtrade label was first raised in the Windward Islands in the late 1990s, there was much scepticism about the viability of the idea. More details

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Improving nutrition in Tanzania: experiences from food markets

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BLOG: After the hunger summit

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Is China innovating in renewables?

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When is business ‘inclusive’?

03 May 2012
By Elise Wach