Padraig R Carmody* - Trinity College Dublin
Global value chain and production network theories make valuable contributions to our understanding of where, why and how commodities are produced and consumed around the world. However a number of critiques of these frameworks have recently been made, such as that they exclude spaces of disinvestment or disarticulation. They also exclude spaces of non-articulation in the Global South in particular, and these theoretical frameworks are less suited to analysing the production of services; the largest economic sector in many economies around the world. Services are increasingly organized, aggregated, marketed and delivered through the use of new information and communication technologies to produce value webs. In the case of tourism, the world's largest industry, the web has had major impacts on how it is organized. Based on interviews with more than 50 tourism operators in Cape Town and its surrounding region in South Africa, this paper explores the uses and impacts of new information technologies and the configurations of the resultant value webs. Drawing on diverse contexts and segments within the Western Cape region, such as township tours, this paper explores the way in which valuewebs articulate, and disarticulate places, in addition to the reasons for non-articulation. As the product in tourism is the experience, place remains centrally important. The way in which virtureal environments are created is central to how place rents are allocated within valuewebs. The analysis suggests that linear chain concepts neglect other organizational modes in the global informationalised economy, and overemphasise material over other, vitally important, flows.