The global economy is structured around global value chains (GVCs) that link producers and consumers around the world. For many countries, the ability to effectively insert into a GVC is a vital condition for development. This process could also serve as a stepping-stone for organizations in emerging nations to integrate into the world economy.

What are the best ways to integrate into a GVC? What are some of the tools to identify different opportunities within GVCs? How are other international organizations, aid agencies and governments leveraging GVCs? For countries, how can understanding global value chains improve competitiveness? For local firms, where is your organization positioned within a GVC and where are opportunities for upgrading?

The Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (Duke CGGC) addresses these types of questions as part of its teaching activities which are separately designed for both undergraduate students and senior level practitioners.


Professor Gary Gereffi, a co-founder of the Global Value Chain framework, is considered one of the leading GVC scholars in the world. A passionate and dedicated teacher, Professor Gereffi brings decades of research and experience into the classroom to show the real life application of global value chain analysis. In addition to teaching students and practitioners, he has also trained members of the Duke CGGC research team to be competent, thoughtful and engaging instructors in the classroom.


Customized workshops have benefitted the likes of policymakers, economic developers, consultants and academics focused on improving country or company export competitiveness.

Course content combines the academic rigor associated with a reputable institution like Duke University and real world application stemming from Duke CGGC’s client-sponsored research activities. Learning outcomes are tailored for each particular context. The entire Duke CGGC team has extensive experience in utilizing the framework. We can put together a team that matches clients’ learning objectives to the CGGC researchers’ industry and geographic expertise.

Typically, the Duke CGGC teaching team would lead an interactive case study presentation and then participants would use the methodology that was introduced and directly apply it using their own data. The members of the Duke CGGC teaching team provide individual support to participants as they work on their assignments.

Read this story to see a practical example of how the Duke CGGC teaching approach is applied in actual work with government officials.


Training clients have included the likes of the African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Center for Competitiveness, the Organization of American States and the Kazakhstan National Analytical Center. Here is a specific example of the impact that has been generated:

Client: Caribbean Center for Competitiveness (CCfC)

Learning Objectives: CCfC’s goal is to support private sector development. It is a challenge for many in the region to find new sources of revenue. CCfC wanted to equip trainees with methodologies for competitive and comparative advantage.

Deliverables: The CCfC engaged Duke CGGC to lead two different workshops for 30 individuals throughout the region with a vested interest in supporting private sector development: researchers, policy makers, consultants, and academics. The workshops focused on value chain analysis and writing case studies. A particular highlight was using video conferencing to interview one of Duke CGGC’s clients in Central America as it was a way for the participants to follow-up and ask questions of the decision-makers after they had done the case.

Results: Individuals left at the end of the workshops with a set of tools that they could apply to their own circumstances. This enabled them to see if their findings made sense through the lens of identifying opportunities for development. It also gave the participants the confidence to articulate strategies for development.

In post-workshop evaluations, participants were overwhelmingly pleased with their experience and many had requested additional workshops. In a separate survey, participants were asked if the trainings impacted their work. The resounding response was yes. It made a difference on the job and how they were able to convince their superiors what to do and how to go about it.

CCfC also has a book coming out from the University that features six different cases, a direct result from the learnings gleaned in the workshop.


“If you are looking for a set of practical tools to function more efficiently in your job and to be able to address issues of firm or industry competitiveness, then I highly recommend these workshops. The workshops were most beneficial to us because they were practical. We were to apply a theory and put it into practice. We particularly resonated with the case-based learning via Duke CGGC’s client work. We thought the workshop was so good that we did it twice! That is testament to the value that we experienced.”
- Indera Sagewan-Alli, Executive Director for the Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness
“The GVC approach we learned during the Duke workshops is very useful for collaboration. It brings people with different perspectives together and allows them to go through a useful process to evaluate opportunities. Sometimes when you go to workshops, there are times when the information is not relevant. That wasn’t the case with the Duke workshops. There was lots of energy around the topics and I know this is something we can use for our organization.”
– Paula Bourne, Barbados Investment and Development Corporation


Over the years, Duke CGGC has provided undergraduate students with perspectives on the linking of economic, social and environmental development. One way is through Professor Gereffi’s courses taught within the sociology department. The following are other examples of Duke CGGC’s teaching impact for undergraduates.

Bass Connections

From 2013 – 2016, Duke CGGC participated in Bass Connections, a Duke university-wide, interdisciplinary initiative focused on engaging students in the exploration of unanswered questions about major societal challenges. The Duke CGGC Bass Connections course was entitled “North Carolina in the Global Economy: the Workforce Development Challenge.” The course was co-led by Professor Gereffi and Lukas Brun with research and technical support from Stacey Frederick. The course was open to undergraduate students from all disciplines and years, although the majority were juniors in Public Policy or Economics majors pursuing the Markets and Management certificate.

Each of the three years had a different focus area related to workforce development and competitiveness in North Carolina:

  • 2013-2014: in the first year, students looked at the seven industries on the NC in the Global Economy website and assisted Duke CGGC in updating the content of the website.
  • 2014-2015: in year two, students researched North Carolina’s position in the defense and aerospace sectors.
  • 2015-2016: in the final year, students looked at North Carolina’s Appalachian Regional Commission’s counties in the automotive and beverage value chains.

The course objectives were to update and extend our knowledge of economic and workforce development challenges in North Carolina’s main and emerging industries. The course was a highly innovative, fast-paced interdisciplinary research collaboration between students, faculty and staff focused on developing practical research and team project skills, creating networking opportunities with professionals (guest lectures and networking), identifying summer research work opportunities and creating outputs that matter to policymakers. Each year, two teams of 3-5 students created project plans and team charters, developed value chain maps of their industries, invited guest speakers from industry, government, community colleges and non-profits, and developed websites, reports and academic articles summarizing their findings. To learn more, visit the North Carolina section of the Duke CGGC website.

“My involvement with the Duke CGGC through Bass Connections truly molded my college experience. Our approach to learning throughout the course went far beyond the typical liberal arts classroom, expanding to extensive data analysis and in-depth interviews with industry professionals. These experiences put a unique spin on my four years at Duke, and, ultimately, shaped my growth as a creative and critical thinker.” – Alexandra Schwartz, ’15
“The Bass Connections course I took for two semesters was among my most enriching university experiences. Working with a tight-knit team of motivated individuals and a professor who is at the forefront of the GVC framework development allowed me to gain insights into North Carolina's economic position that I would never have been able to grasp before.” – Shelley Wu, ’17
“It was really fulfilling to see the research process through from start to finish, and I'm grateful to Duke for allowing students to participate in such an innovative and intellectually stimulating program. Now as an alumnae, I'm able to draw on my research, teamwork and presentation experiences from the CGGC project in both my professional and personal pursuits.” – Hannah McCracken, ’16
“The yearlong Bass Connections course was the most academically fulfilling experience of my four years at Duke University. This is the type of class I came to Duke in order to take. I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with world renown scholars on economic development policies for rural Appalachian North Carolina. I applied challenging technical concepts using the GVC framework and writing manuscripts. Furthermore, the work I was doing will impact people's lives. Finally, I believe that this Bass Connections course gave me the chance to improve my analytical skills, which were very helpful when I applied for management consultant jobs.” – Bryan Dinner, ’16
“My research with the Duke CGGC has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my Duke career. I was able to learn the importance of using a holistic perspective such as GVCs when approaching economic development. I am grateful to CGGC for extending this incredible learning opportunity to undergraduates and for the opportunity to engage in meaningful, impactful work” – Shruti Rao, ’18


Duke CGGC also leads guest lectures. Most recently, Professor Gary Gereffi and researcher Lukas Brun delivered a guest lecture as part of Professor Bora Park’s course on the Politics of Market Competition in a Global Economy (part of the Duke University Asian/Pacific Studies Institute).

“We were excited to learn about real-life applications of the global value chain framework and Duke CGGC’s contribution to governments in developing countries. Gary and Lukas are top experts on global value chains, and their interdisciplinary research on markets and governments not only creates new knowledge but also makes real impact around the world. It was a great lecture for anyone interested in understanding the next frontiers of market competitiveness.” ” – Professor Bora Park


Contact Mike Hensen at mike.hensen@duke.edu to discuss how Duke CGGC’s teaching services might benefit your class or organization.