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Digital power: Value chain upgrading in an age of digitization

Luis Oliveira, Afonso Fleury and Maria Tereza Fleury

International Business Review, 2021, vol. 30, issue 6

Abstract: We investigate whether and how digitization may affect the power relationships that constrain the upgrading of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in global value chains (GVCs). Combining GVC literature and Resource Dependency Theory, we examine the three features that shift upgrading constraints: asset-specificity, market disintermediation, and innovation sources. The outcomes of a multiple case study encompassing Brazilian firms intentionally sampled from the Digital Games Industry refine our propositions, leading to the concept of digital power as the potential difference in the power imbalance that a supplier may experience in relation to lead firms when performing similar functions in value chains with different digitization degrees. We contribute to International Business literature regarding the relatively unaddressed effects of digital technologies on power relationships in value chains, and deepen the extant understanding of value chain upgrading as a phenomenon. For practitioners, our results inform ways of benefiting from digital industries.

Keywords: Digitization; Digitalization; Global value chains; Power relationships (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ibusrev.2021.101850

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