Global Commodity Chain Analysis and the French Filière Approach: Comparison and Critique

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This article reviews two approaches to the study of economic restructuring which focus on commodity-specific dynamics of change. The first is the global commodity chain (GCC) approach, which has been developed primarily for the analysis of industrial commodities.The second is the francophone filière tradition, which has been applied mostly to agricultural commodities originating from former French colonies. The article finds that the GCC approach has a more coherent framework than the filière approach, although it is still far from constituting a fully fledged 'theory'. The authors provide a number of suggestions for improving some of its key concepts. They also suggest that the GCC approach can be enriched by some of the insights gained in filière work, especially in terms of improving historical coverage and depth, enlarging the analysis to agricultural commodities, better handling of regulation issues, and including quality convention issues in analysing commodity chain structure and restructuring.