Competition and Power in Global Value Chains
Time & Location
About the Event
Hosted by the Centre for Business and Development Studies (CBDS)
Department of Management, Society and Communication and the
Digital Transformations Platform, Copenhagen Business School
The Center for Business and Development Studies (CBDS) and the Digital Transformations Platform invite you for a public seminar on "Competition and Power in Global Value Chains" on Febuary 20, 13.00-15.00. There will be two presentation by (1) Pamela Mondliwa, Simon Roberts, and Stefano Ponte, as well as (2) Maha Rafi Atal and Pamela Mondliwa.
Presentation 1: Pamela Mondliwa, Simon Roberts, and Stefano Ponte
There has been a growing concentration of the global economy in the hands of transnational corporations (TNCs). The largest TNCs have bigger revenues than many governments around the world. The importance of these firms means they have considerable power over their suppliers and customers – as well as being important political actors. In this paper we contribute to integrating developments in the assessment of power in global value chains (GVC) and industrial organization literatures. First, we deepen and extend the Dallas et al. (2019) typology of power framework by highlighting how developments in the industrial organization literature on bargaining power, buyer power and vertical arrangements can provide a deeper understanding of forms and effects of power in supplier-buyer relationships in GVCs. Second, we consider how competition authorities as regulators shape markets and value chains and the different ways in which this interacts with accepted norms of ‘fair’ market conduct in countries. We use two industry case studies, which are both drawn from Southern Africa, to reflect on the ways that an integration of the literatures provides useful insights about the outcomes in the value chains in question.
Presentation 2: Maha Rafi Atal and Pamela Mondliwa (3rd co-author Sha’ista Goga )
“There’s an App for That”: Mobile Finance, Monopoly Banks and Economic Development in South Africa
In recent years, two parallel technological changes have begun to transform the South African banking sector. First, financial technology startups have emerged, offering payments and other services across multiple bank accounts via bespoke mobile apps, powered by a combination of official access to bank APIs and unofficial screen scraping. Second, established banks have expanded their mobile offerings through apps that connect to third-party messaging services from companies such as Facebook and Tencent. This paper considers the political economy implications of these “app-based banking” products. First, it argues that while the proliferation of fintech startups suggests an open marketplace with few barriers to entry, the products these companies offer supplement rather than replace consumers’ existing bank accounts, a barrier to meaningful competition between established and emerging firms. Second, it argues that the combination of bank access, mobile access and internet access required to use these new products limits their reach to elite consumers. This pattern stands in contrast to the path of new financial technology elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, where mobile finance has played an emancipatory role for previously unbanked populations and contributed to economic development. In South Africa, by contrast, where a relatively high proportion of consumers have access to traditional banking, but few can afford access to mobile data, the desire of financial firms to replace physical branches and in-person customer service with mobile applications is potentially regressive and exclusionary.
About the presenters:
Pamela Mondliwa is a senior researcher at the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED) at the University of Johannesburg. Prior to joining CCRED she worked as an economist in the policy and research division of the Competition Commission of South Africa where she conducted economic analyses on complex enforcement cases, cartels, and mergers and acquisitions. Pamela’s research experience is on issues related to competition, economic regulation and access to markets; industrial development; and regional economic development. She has provided research support to various government departments in South Africa and advises competition authorities in the Southern Africa region.
Simon Roberts is an economics director at the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and a professor of economics at the University of Johannesburg where he founded the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED). He has worked extensively and published on issues of industrial development, trade, regional value chains, competition and economic regulation in Southern and East Africa, advising governments, competition authorities and regulators. He has also testified as an expert witness in a number of major cases. Simon previously held the position of Chief Economist and Manager of the Policy & Research Division at the Competition Commission of South Africa from November 2006 to December 2012. Prior to this he was an associate professor at the University of Witwatersrand.
Stefano Ponte is Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the Centre for Business and Development Studies at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He is interested in transnational economic and environmental governance, and in overlaps and tensions between private authority and public regulation. Stefano analyses business–government–civil society interactions, and governance and upgrading trajectories in global value chains. He is currently working on sustainability issues and how they shape power relations in global value chains, and on how different forms of partnerships affect sustainability outcomes. Maha Rafi Atal is Postdoc at the Centre for Business and Development Studies and CBS Sustainability at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. She takes a political economy approach to the study of corporate power. Her doctoral thesis, completed at the University of Cambridge, focused on corporations as governing authorities, examining “corporate social responsibility” as a system of Company Rule in India, Kenya and South Africa. She is also interested in how corporations exercise influence in the media and in politics, and in corporate accountability under international law. In addition to her academic career, she is an award-winning business journalist, with work published in Forbes, Fortune, BusinessWeek, The Guardian, and The New Statesman, among others. She is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, and the co-founder and Executive Director of Public Business, a non-profit supporting reporting, research and discussion about the wider impact of business actions.