The Global Value Chain (GVC) Initiative at Duke’s Center for Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness is at the forefront of researching areas of opportunity and risk in an ever-more interconnected global economy. Led by Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center, Gary Gerreffi, the GVC Initiative publishes original research analyzing sector-specific economies to understand how value is created through the industrial process.
A value chain differs from a conventional supply chain by focusing not just on traditional inputs and outputs, but looking at where, how and by whom value is added as a product goes from development to production. While some products may be confined by geography, the vast majority are inextricably connected to other states, countries, or regions – creating complex networks that require a more sophisticated framework of analysis. The GVC Initiative uses GVC mapping and analysis to uncover areas for value creation and better inform policies for growth and development. From exposing weak points in Russia’s wheat value chain to delving into the Tourism Value Chains in East Africa, the initiative conducts GVC research with real life policy implications.
Whether it be helping countries identify opportunities to enter new GVCs or mitigating potential risks, GVC analysis is a useful tool for policymakers who need to understand economic networks and the interactions of interrelated products and services. While much of the GVC work focuses on developing countries, uncovering opportunities for growth and recommending targeted action, the North Carolina in the Global Economy website provides an example of GVCs in our own state. Seven specific industries are featured with interactive maps and charts to understand how North Carolina ties into the global economy.
As part of Policy Bridge’s efforts to continuing highlighting examples of engaged scholarship, we’ve been speaking with several professors around campus who have engaged with policy actors frequently in their work. One of these professors is Dr. Heather Stapleton, the Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Environmental Management at the Nicholas School for Environment. She is frequently asked to be an expert witness and advise lawmakers on matters relevant to her research on contaminants.
We asked Professor Stapleton what encourages the frequency of her engagement with policymakers. She noted that policymakers and their teams usually initiate their conversations with her research team. Part of this enthusiasm is credited to the niche of Dr. Stapleton’s research area. Her current research projects explore the routes of human exposure to flame retardant chemicals and examine the way these compounds are photodegraded and metabolized using mass spectrometry to identify breakdown products/metabolites. To note, Dr. Stapleton’s lab is one of the only labs in the world that does this kind of work.
For researchers performing studies in distinctive subject areas, her engagement is a great example of how one can be found by government agencies through published research. When lawmakers are interested in receiving expert testimony on the risk of exposure and toxicity to chemical contaminants in home materials, Professor Stapleton is a well-known resource. Due to this credibility, she has engaged across multiple states and at the federal level to respond to testimony requests from state governing body and federal agencies.
When providing expertise to governing bodies, Stapleton did advise us that misinformation is common when research experts and industry officials are not in the room at the same time. This misinformation can contribute to confusion among legislators and contribute to further division over scientific evidence on regulation matters. When this occurrence is coupled with partisan division on some regulatory issues, providing scientific testimony as a non-partisan outside expert can be difficult.
Stapleton most recently testified at the North Carolina General Assembly in May.
To read a record of her past engagement with Congress, see this post on her 2012 Senate Committee testimony on the Nicholas School’s News blog.