IGLP Pro- Seminar

The Role of Law in Structures of Global Production

Conveners—Grietje Baars (City Law School, City University London) Dennis Davis (High Court of Cape Town), Dan Danielsen (Northeastern University School of Law) Jason Jackson (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) and Brishen Rogers (Temple University Beasley School of Law).

First Meeting—June 4-6, 2014, Harvard Law School

This pro-seminar will explore the role of law in the construction, operation and governance of global value chains and production networks: structures that have been theorized by sociologists and political economists to map the disaggregated modes of production that comprise much of modern global capitalism.  We will examine how diverse local, national, regional, international and transnational legal regimes, together with cultural norms and business practices, shape the expectations, background entitlements, institutional forms and bargaining positions of various players in global production networks.  We will consider how those legal entitlements and normative expectations interact with material factors of production to produce particular forms of commercial relations as well as particular attributions of power and value creation.  Finally, we will explore how those legal rules and norms come to shape value chain governance, including the allocation of economic surplus and power, as well as the perceived limits of possible regulatory interventions to distribute rents more equitably or to reduce adverse externalities that result from a networked organization of production.

 While scholars have primarily devoted attention to the role of traditional economic factors, such as commodity prices, labor costs, transaction costs and productive efficiency, in the formation and institutional structure of production networks, our intuition is that many legal regimes—tort, tax, trade, traditional and intellectual property, labor, corporate, banking and many others—may be equally important in the proliferation and structure of those networks.  In fact, in many cases, it seems to us that the question of whether a production factor results in “cost,” “risk” or “value creation” is largely a function of legal rules and entitlements.  As a consequence, the particular structure of a production network may be as much the result of attempts by parties to arbitrage or shape the applicable rules and entitlements to achieve beneficial results as to mitigate what may traditionally be treated as wholly economic factors.  Our hope is that by producing a range of scholarly narratives that explicate the legal regimes and norms shaping the structures of production in both micro contexts, such as particular local market structures, as well as across broad, complex and diversely organized global production systems, we will begin to suggest new ways of understanding the diverse roles law plays in the organization and operation of these structures. This will also allow us to explicate the range of means and methods of using law to shift the distribution of rents, benefits and burdens within these structures to achieve more just, equitable, safe and sustainable modes of production.

This pro-seminar will be open to invited participants as well as selected applicants.  At this first meeting, we will combine discussions of canonical texts in the fields of global value chains and production networks alongside works of critical theory and critical legal scholarship with discussions of “works-in-progress” by legal scholars that address the questions raised in the pro-seminar.  We will also discuss plans for future meetings and seek to obtain commitments for the production of new scholarship to meet the publication requirements for our pro-seminar.

For more information, please feel free to contact any of the convenors at the following email addresses: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; and [email protected].