Mahwish J Khan, Stefano Ponte, Peter Lund-Thomsen · 2019
Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space · SAGE Publications

The ‘factory manager dilemma’: Purchasing practices and environmental upgrading in apparel global value chains

Economic and environmental upgrading in global value chains are intertwined processes. The existing global value chain literature has so far articulated the relationships between economic and social upgrading but has only recently started to explore the challenges of environmental upgrading from the perspective of suppliers in the Global South. In this article, we examine the ‘factory manager dilemma’ as a way of conceptualizing the purchasing practices and environmental upgrading requirements faced by suppliers in their dealings with lead firms in global value chains. Specifically, we analyze the environmental upgrading challenges experienced by Pakistani apparel firms. We conclude that Pakistani apparel suppliers are required both to absorb the consequences of global buyers’ unsustainable purchasing practices and to reduce their own profitability – all in the name of sustainability.

Full publication is available on: DOI 10.1177/0308518x19876945

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Stefano Ponte

Stefano Ponte
Copenhagen Business School

Stefano Ponte is a Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the Centre for Business and Development Studies at Copenhagen Business School. His research focuses on governance dynamics, and economic and environmental upgrading trajectories in global value chains — especially in developing countries and in Africa. He is particularly interested in how sustainability standards, labels and certifications shape agro-food value chains, and in how different forms of partnerships affect sustainability outcomes.

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