The impact of e-commerce on Chinese suppliers' upgrading in global value chains in a digitalized era

Yan Jiang, Xiao Qin, Yuan Virtanen*, Weimu You

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the challenges Chinese manufacturing suppliers face in global value chains (GVCs) and how they respond to the challenges through GVC upgrading facilitated by e-commerce. A multiple case study approach on nine case companies of three company size categories in the Chinese nonwoven fabric product industry was employed. The findings reveal four categories of internal challenges (i.e., a product development challenge, a human resource challenge, a financial resource challenge, and an intellectual resource challenge) and two categories of external challenges (i.e., a market challenge and a macroeconomic challenge) faced by the Chinese suppliers in the e-commerce context. Furthermore, strategic responses undertaken by Chinese manufacturers are identified and are further related to various types of economic, environmental, and social upgrading by applying the GVC framework. Unlike most extant research on the phenomenon of sourcing from China that approaches it from the viewpoint of global buyers, this study examines the phenomenon from the perspective of Chinese suppliers. Through the theoretical lens of GVC analysis and its core concept of upgrading, this study contributes to GVC research by shedding light on the impact of e-commerce on suppliers' GVC upgrading practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalStrategic Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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