Development and Application of a Value Chain Research Approach to Understand and Evaluate Internal and External Factors and Relationships Affecting the Economic Competitiveness in the Textile Value Chain


Textile firms’ compete in a global, rapidly changing economy. In this environment, stakeholders cannot be complacent; they must continually upgrade their skills and seek more sophisticated advantages. To develop a sustainable strategy requires a holistic understanding of past and present dynamics affecting the entire value chain on a local to global scale. Yet due to changes in industry-specific and economy-wide business dynamics, the textile complex lacks a holistic, standardized model that represents all sectors and stakeholders. The purpose of this research was to fill this gap by developing a conceptual framework and research process that provides a comprehensive view of the forces driving change in the organization, geography and relationships among stakeholders throughout the value chain. This framework underscores areas that are increasing in importance in the textile complex including pre- and post- production activities and network relationships. The research approach is built on a visual representation of the value chain structure that allows information to be easily analyzed, visualized or compared to other industries. Together, the visual and conceptual models can be used to show how different parts of the chain are connected to each other. Firms and economic developers can use this approach to predict future competitive dynamics and to develop sustainable upgrading strategies. This research was accomplished in three phases. First, secondary literature on existing chain-based industrial organization research approaches were reviewed. The two main streams of literature, strategic management and economic sociology, were compared to identify similarities and differences in research frameworks, models and processes. Results indicated that despite different analytical lenses, the two approaches were quite similar and are often used interchangeably by research practitioners. Next, key features from the sociological approaches were added to the business and management strategy formulation models. By combining the complementary elements of these approaches, a new, industry-neutral research approach including a research process, conceptual model, and visual representations were created. Finally, the new research approach was applied to textile value chain and the research process was carried out to understand the competitive dynamics facing the existing structure of the North Carolina textile complex. Results indicated that the North Carolina textile complex has a strong base of textile firms and a strong presence of members of the supporting environment. Yet, the industry lacks physical presence or linkages with important downstream buyers or lead firms. Furthermore, the industry lacks full-package, flexible, scalable, network operating structures. The industry would greatly benefit from increased marketing of existing capabilities and an infrastructure that can facilitate collaborative efforts along the chain and among firms with complementary competencies.



competititiveness, value chain, textile, North Carolina, model, research approach





Textile Technology Management