Towards a typology of repositioning strategies of GVC/GPN suppliers: the case of functional upgrading and downgrading

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This article examines various upgrading and downgrading repositioning firm strategies within global value chains (GVCs) or global production networks (GPNs). It builds upon recent evidence that the mode of governance could vary profoundly among firms engaged in the same GVC/GPN. Therefore, the relevance of particular types of upgrading that were originally derived from the ideal types of GVC/GPN governance will be reconsidered. It is argued that the existing dissonance in the literature over possibilities for functional upgrading can be attributed to the different modes of governance that can exist within a particular GVC/GPN and to the diverse nature of functional upgrading. Consequently, a typology of functional upgrading is outlined, and it is argued that these different types vary significantly according to their probability and potential risk-benefit ratios. The article also introduces passive, adaptive and strategic downgrading and outlines their potential negative and positive effects on firms.