Power, Governance, and Global Value Chains: Case Studies on NGO Agri-Food Innovation Intermediaries in the Philippines

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Participation and integration in Global Value Chains (GVCs) is critical for industrial development, especially for developing economies in key sectors such as agri-food businesses (AFB). However, doing so optimally is difficult due to inherent power imbalances between GVC actors. Innovation intermediaries may support the upgrading and opportunities of less powerful actors by working between processes and institutions while exercising a mix of bargaining, demonstrative, institutional, and constitutive powers. By doing so, they can theoretically reconfigure chain governance structures. However, little research has been done on how precisely innovation intermediaries exercise these powers and to what ends. This study conducts case studies on two AFB non-government organisations (NGOs) in the Philippines, employing focus group surveys, semi-structured interviews, and content analysis to examine how they exercise different types of power to better their partners’ GVC position. We find that both NGOs employ these powers in diverse ways and to varying degrees over time. Our results reveal the critical importance of active value chain participation by non-firm actors in influencing the balance of power within GVCs and in shaping government response. These results have implications for theoretical and policy debates concerning GVCs and innovation intermediaries, both generally and in developing economy contexts.