Critical perspectives on the dynamics of change in the contemporary global economy.

Research theme lead

Dr Jennifer Johns

We research using critical approaches to globalisation, examining the role of organisations, labour, regulators and the nation-state in the reproduction of capitalism. This theme brings together staff across disciplines such as economic sociology and geography, politics, history, migration and global studies. Our cross-disciplinary perspectives enable us to tackle some of the most critical questions facing the contemporary global economy. We explore the organisation of production and consumption, uneven economic development, labour mobilities and exploitation, financialisaton, super-rich capitalism and the internationalisation of knowledge-intensive organisations. Our research is both theoretical and grounded in engagement with industry and other stakeholders in the economy including policymakers.

What are the main challenges facing individuals, organisations and governments in the contemporary global economy? 

We are experiencing a period of extreme turbulence and uncertainty and the reshaping of globalisation and the organisation of capital and labour.  There are profound implications for the economic and social wellbeing of communities globally and likely increases in societal injustices and inequalities. The work of the GPE group considers the past, present and possible future trajectories of change. We examine economic organisation through multiple lenses including impacts on migration, corporate organisational forms and strategies, financial systems and technological change.

Our work

The work of the GPE theme is international, with a focus on the connections between stakeholders.  Our work is underpinned by, and further conceptual development, of several theories and frameworks including social network theory, global value chains, global production networks and global wealth chains.  This allows multi-scalar analyses of economic processes, from the micro (individual) through to city, region and global scales and the connections between them.

Understanding the complexity of change in the organisation of economies involves research on the interaction between stakeholders (such as firms, organisations, institutions, entrepreneurs, the public, even technologies) that are empirically researched in different geographical contexts. Our group is well experienced in conducting research across the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America. 

Our research is cross- and trans-disciplinary, using management and international business approaches to inform dialogue with other social science disciplines and into the humanities and STEM subjects.

Current projects include:

  • Additive manufacturing and distributive manufacturing (with engineering colleagues as part of an academic and industry consortium)
  • Garment and cocoa supply chains (with collaborators in politics and law)
  • Agricultural food chains and sustainable bottom-of-pyramid business models in Rwanda (with engineering and environmental management)
  • Organisational remembering of corporate social responsibility and alternative food networks