University of Hertfordshire

The tortuous ascent of Global Value Chains: The Case of R&D China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Graham Hollinshead
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)244-262
JournalCritical Perspectives on International Business
Journal publication date3 Jul 2017
Early online date22 Jun 2017
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2017


In this paper the micro-political complexities of operating over institutional distance in a modern international enterprise are explored. The focal sector of the study is the pharmaceutical industry, which, in its latest phase of international development, has engaged in ‘internal sourcing’ of research and development (R&D) talent from China. Designed to engender cost effective scientific discovery in highly competitive market circumstances, the relocation of primary discovery functions from ‘West’ to ‘East’ in major pharmaceutical concerns has been associated with the rationalization and disaggregation of international organizational structures and concomitant changes in patterns of international staffing. By undertaking field work at the China based R&D site of a western owned corporation, a hybridized mode of staffing at the site is revealed which has prompted the expression of micro-political tensions at ‘grass roots’ organizational level. The paper contributes to emergent ‘socio- political’ theorisation in international business through revealing complex forms of workplace segmentation and conflictual forms of practice.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: Graham Hollinshead, ‘The tortuous ascent of global value chains – the case of pharmaceutical R&D in China’, Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 13 (3): 244-262, July 2017, published by Emerald Publishing Limited. The definitive, final Version of Record is available online at DOI:

ID: 10769922