2006 volume 38(7) pages 1205 – 1227
doi:10.1068/a38168

Cite as:
Hess M, Coe N M, 2006, "Making connections: global production networks, standards, and embeddedness in the mobile-telecommunications industry" Environment and Planning A 38(7) 1205 – 1227

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Making connections: global production networks, standards, and embeddedness in the mobile-telecommunications industry

Martin Hess, Neil M Coe

Received 10 May 2005; in revised form 27 September 2005

Abstract. The authors investigate the contemporary restructuring of the mobile-telecommunications industry with the use of a global production networks (GPNs) perspective. After a brief conceptual discussion of GPN, standard setting and embeddedness, their analysis proceeds in four further stages. First, they consider how technological change has driven the development of complex mobile telecommunications GPNs in a sector previously characterised by relatively linear and simple value chains. Second, they show how processes of deregulation and privatisation over the past two decades have enabled the internationalisation of mobile telecommunications provision. Third, they explore the delicate power balance between embedded state and corporate actors in telecommunications GPNs through a consideration of the changing bases of standard setting in the industry. Despite ongoing processes of globalisation, the continuing importance of national policies and strategies is clear. Fourth, they demonstrate the continuing importance and differentiating role of embeddedness in the transformation of corporate mobile telecommunication GPNs. In sum, it is argued that the mobile-telecommunications sector should be understood as a constellation of multiscalar manufacturing and distribution networks connecting together firms, organisations, and customers in geographically uneven ways.

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