Hulke, Carolin (2022). Development beyond global integration: Livelihood strategies, small-scale agriculture, and regional value chains in Namibian conservation areas. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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In recent years, African economic policies have increasingly focused on intra-continental, rather than global integration, for instance through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched in 2019. These initiatives follow a similar logic as neoliberal global value chain approaches such as those promoted by the World Bank: governments envision integration within the African continent as a driver of industry growth, economic diversification, and global competitiveness. However, the vision of such neoliberal value chain integration and its implementation through top-down regulatory and facilitative policy making has often not resulted in the expected positive outcomes. Therefore, the question remains to what extent and under which conditions the shift of economic networks from a global to a more regional scale can benefit regional development and ultimately local livelihoods. Scholarship on Global Value Chains (GVC) and Global Production Networks (GPN) addresses the ‘dark sides’ of global integration, tending to exclude peripheral areas, exploit certain actors within value chains, resulting in enclave economies. Moreover, perspectives within this literature criticise an inclusionary bias in research that often focusses on regions and sectors integrated into the global economy, thereby neglecting non-participating actors. Addressing these shortcoming, alternative forms of regional integration are increasingly gaining attention by scholars, which revolve around more localised and bottom up approaches for economic development. Against this backdrop, this dissertation firstly addresses the empirically discernible pitfalls of global integration and secondly expands the conceptual understanding of economic development in rural areas. It does so by extending the conceptualisation of regional value chains (RVC) as local, regional, or domestic economic systems with a more holistic and inclusive localised approach. Combining aspects from GVG/GPN theory, Evolutionary Economic Geography and livelihoods approaches, the dynamic livelihood strategies connected to value chains, their governance, and the potential of RVCs for inclusive regional development are considered that have received limited attention so far. With the aim to capture the evolution and organisation of RVCs and possibilities for livelihood upgrading, it provides a case study beyond global integration narratives, by the example of a RVC in horticulture in a rural area of northern Namibia. There, RVCs are governed by a myriad of multi-layered institutions, which can be distinguished between local collective action, private sector engagement, or national protectionist and commercial industry policies. Namibian regional development policies not only envision large-scale production of fresh fruits and vegetables as one central development pillar, but secondly build on international, nature-based tourism through conserving the unique flora and fauna of the Zambezi region. Examining interlinkages between both sectors, this dissertation contributes critical and timely insights into the role of polycentric value chain governance from an evolutionary viewpoint, highlighting its intersection with other sectors. It is based on an exploratory, single case study approach, building on rich mixed-methods data generated during nine months of field research. By showing how the RVC in horticulture contribute to a more inclusive regional economy, the importance of local initiatives as opposed to poorly functioning industrial policies is stressed. Furthermore, agricultural RVCs can, through their capacity to capture value from globalised economies such as the tourism industry, reduce inter- and intra-regional inequalities, depending on certain socio-economic and institutional conditions, which this dissertation unravels. Both the role of nation state policies and local institutions that distribute captured value horizontally, are stressed, adding novel insights to the existing scholarship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-613385
Date: 2022
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences > Department of Geosciences > Geographisches Institut
Subjects: Geography and travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Economic GeographyUNSPECIFIED
Regional Value ChainsUNSPECIFIED
Rural DevelopmentUNSPECIFIED
Date of oral exam: 27 April 2022
NameAcademic Title
Revilla Diez, JavierProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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