Transforming Global Commodity Chains: Actor Strategies, Regulation, and Competitive Relations in the Dutch Cut Flower Sector

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Buyer-driven and producer-driven commodity chain governance typologies are helpful in characterizing the relationships between buyers and suppliers engaged in transnational economic activity. However, what is missing in Global Commodity Chain (GCC) and Global Value Chain (GVC) analyses is an explanation of how governance structures change over time. In this paper I suggest that the production system associated with particular commodities is not the only factor shaping commodity chain governance. Rather, I argue that actors' strategies, regulation, and historical trajectories also influence and, in certain conjunctures, transform chain governance. Since regulations and actor strategies in competitive environments change over time, it follows that chain governance is dynamic. Drawing from the case of the Dutch cut flower agro-industry, the world's leading supplier of cut flowers, I build on the GCC, GVC and Global Production Network (GPN) literatures to illustrate how actor strategies, regulation and the historical trajectory of the Dutch cut flower GCC shape and change chain governance. What the Dutch cut flower case illustrates is how grower strategies and government policy facilitated the formation of grower cooperatives, and transformed the power relations between growers and buyers in a shift from a buyer to a producer-driven chain.