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How do intergovernmental organizations embed themselves in global value chains: A case study of Gavi


Objective: The article’s objective is to understand how non-MNE actors in the global arena, like intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) embed themselves in the global value chain by using their strong ties to states.

Research Design & Methods: For this study, a qualitative methodology approach investigates an underexplored area of research using a single case study, GAVI, that utilizes thick data.

Findings: The paper contributes to our understanding of IGOs and how they internationalize. New motives are identified, and the concept of soft power has been extended to IGOs.

Implications & Recommendations: IGOs in the humanitarian or developmental sector use soft power strategies to embed themselves in the global value chain. The paper’s implications are for policymakers and practitioners in the third sector, including those who invested interest at state-represented foreign direct investment. Future studies can look at how networks are leveraged, spillover occurs from a personal level to an institutional level, and vice-versa combining diplomacy, bargaining, and legitimacy.

Contribution & Value Added: The study highlights new areas of research like that of soft power. The current internationalization models of SMEs and MNEs may not neatly fit in the context of IGOs (which are born global). We reiterate that existing IB theories need to be applied to other state actors like sovereign wealth funds and non-governmental organizations. The above case study, a detailed historical analysis using thick data, is a methodology not often published.


Global value chain, soft power, legitimacy, strategic seeking FDI, GAVI, Global factory


Author Biography

Melodena Stephens

Professor of Innovation Management at Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (UAE). Management Studies (2004, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, India). Her research interests include branding, country soft power, social impact, and scaling.

Immanuel Azaad Moonesar

Associate Professor of Health Administration and Policy at Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (UAE) Health Services-Leadership (Walden University, USA). His research interests include international business policy, health policy, public policy, social policy, policy analyst, maternal and child health care policy.


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