Globalisation has been associated with increasing inequality within and between countries, and with a large share of the world’s population living in poverty. The policy challenge is daunting for those people and countries who have not yet benefited from globalisation. It is not so much a matter of whether to participate in the global process, but how to participate. How to participate in a way that provides for sustainable income growth for poor people and for poor countries.
Value chain analysis – which includes the whole cycle of the organisation, production and delivery of products from inception to use and recycling – provides a tool for mapping these domains of private and public policy and for gaining an insight into the challenges confronting both private and public actors.
This paper reviews the unequal character of recent processes of globalisation, summarises the key theoretical concepts characterising the concept of value chains and illustrates the contribution of value chains analysis through summaries of four chain case studies. It concludes with a discussion of practical ways in which value chain analysis can inform policy.