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The concept of upgrading plays an important role within the Global Value Chain (GVC) theoretical framework (Gereffi et al. 2005). The globalization of supply chains and the presence in the market of low cost producers coming from emergent economies pose serious threats for business that based their competitive advantages on efficiency and manufacturing. Although the literature gathered important results in highlighting the economic impact of upgrading, little research has been done on how design is used as a strategic tool for product innovation within the firm (Ravasi and Lojacono 2005) and how it improves the capability of the firm to upgrade within global value chain.
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