Business Systems and Global Commodity Chains: Competing or Complementary Forms of Economic Organization

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Capitalist economies are organised in a variety of different ways and, increasingly, have become more interdependent in the late twentieth century. Two recently developed frameworks for comparing systems of economic organisations and their interconnections are the business systems and global commodity chains approaches. The former focuses on particular configurations of firms and markets that have become established in distinctive institutional contexts, while the latter deals with the co-ordination of economic activities across national boundaries. These approaches differ in the specific phenomena being explained, the dimensions on which they vary, explanatory factors, major lacunae and key intellectual affinities. They are both, though, concerned with systems of economic organisation and so could be integrated into a common framework capable of explaining variations in both national and international economic co-ordination systems.