This article outlines a framework for the analysis of economic integration and its relation to the asymmetries of economic and social development. Consciously breaking with state-centric forms of social science, it argues for a research agenda that is more adequate to the exigencies and conse- quences of globalization than has traditionally been the case in ‘development studies’. Drawing on earlier attempts to analyse the cross-border activities of rms, their spatial congurations and developmental conse- quences, the article moves beyond these by proposing the framework of the ‘global production network’ (GPN). It explores the conceptual elements involved in this framework in some detail and then turns to sketch a stylized example of a GPN. The article concludes with a brief indication of the benets that could be delivered by research informed by GPN analysis.