Last week I had the opportunity to speak to the leadership (200+) of one of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerates at their quarterly meeting. I decided to anchor my talk on research LIRNEasia had conducted over the past years that had relevance to the company. We had drawn inspiration from a finding of the Growth Commission, co-chaired by Michael Spence, in developing our research. This was on the importance of connecting to global value chains. It is difficult for a smallholder or a micro enterprise to connect to a global value chain directly. So, for the past few research cycles, we have been looking at various ways by which they can connect to entities that are already connected to global value chains: like the company whose executives I addressed last week.
The twist in last week’s presentation was that I was saying it made sense for the companies to connect to small holders. That it was not charity; that it was in their interest to do so. In addition to Micheal Spence, the other economists whose work is referred to were: Ronald Coase, Albert Hirschman and Oliver Williamson.