Digitalization, Geographies of Production and Varieties of Digitized Capitalism
Despite a vibrant public and academic discussion on the impact of digitalization on enterprises and the worlds of work, academic studies on the relationship between digitalization and the transformation of actor relationships and institutional settings in the global economy are still scarce. This mini-conference aims to fill the research gap by focusing on contributions that analyze the relationships between technological change, global value chains (GVCs), and national models of capitalism.
It can be expected that digital technologies affect value chains and capitalist growth models in a number of ways. First, they shift the boundaries of automation by increasing versatility and lowering costs, which makes automation affordable for emerging economies. Second, internet-based coordination technologies and online platforms affect the governance of GVCs with implications for both the hierarchies and the geographies of production. Third, consumer data is used by firms to customize products and logistics chains, which results in an ever more important role for intangible assets in business strategies.
Digital technologies are thus changing the contours of today’s global economy. They affect inter-firm relationships in GVCs and shape national models of capitalism through the emergence of new players, the proliferation of new business models, and institutional innovation. Germany, China, and the US in particular are currently reinventing their agendas for socio-economic development, while the global economy risks slipping into an era of hostile protectionism. The outcome of these developments is still unknown. Digitalization may act as a vehicle for economic upgrading and business model innovation. However, it is also a contested field as each nation puts forward its own competitive digitalization agenda. It creates new winners, such as the platform economy’s leading newcomers, but the benefits are distributed unequally between countries, firms, and employees.
Yet digital technologies are not single-handedly generating socio-economic results. Their implementation is shaped by various actors in specific institutional settings. For instance, it is subject to secular developments such as the consolidation and regionalization of value chains in a context of shifting end markets and the rise of new global players from emerging markets. Rather than representing a consistent stage of economic organization (as implied by the term industry 4.0), digitalization affects industrial sectors in different ways, and institutional systems are adapting in idiosyncratic ways corresponding to government agendas for digitalization in each region.
The aim of this mini-conference is to fill the gap in current academic research on the relationship between digitalization, the transformation of value chains, and national models of capitalism. We invite contributions that analyze the following issues and identify linkages between them:
- Analyses of the transformation of national economic growth models, especially with a perspective on the characteristics of emerging varieties of digitalized capitalism;
- Analyses of changes in the geographies of manufacturing and services that are related to the implementation of new digital technologies;
- Studies of new business models and coordination mechanisms based on digital technologies and their implications for the governance of GVCs and institutional innovation.