Unpacking state-led upgrading: empirical evidence from the Uzbek horticulture value chain governance

Lombardozzi, Lorena (2021). Unpacking state-led upgrading: empirical evidence from the Uzbek horticulture value chain governance. Review of International Political Economy, 28(4) pp. 947–973.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09692290.2020.1737563


This paper contributes to the endeavour of bringing the Global Value Chain/Global Production Network (GVC/GPNs) and the Developmental State (DS) literature closer in the analysis of state-led upgrading. By triangulating primary and secondary data of Uzbekistan’s horticulture value chain, it provides a micro-meso analysis of how the state, by creating vertical and horizontal linkages, shaped the pace and direction of agro-industrial upgrading. Also, it discusses how targeted macroeconomic policies enabled such upgrading. Finally, by bridging these two levels, it argues for the need to consider the state not only as a regulator, a facilitator, a buyer and a producer within GVC/GPNs, but as a coordinator of strategic developmental objectives beyond and across the GVCs. Drawing upon a strategic-relational approach and using the concept of organisational upgrading, it discusses how the state articulates the institutional context of GVC/GPNs through the establishment of financial and political partnerships with international actors to avoid predatory competition; the coordination of inter-sectorial spillovers for short and long-term collective learning and capacity building; and the creation of linkages to enable multi-dimensional and inter-temporal developmental objectives. Coordinated state interventions and a gradual approach to market reforms were proven instrumental to ensure the sustainability of the economic transformation.

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