Introduction

Global Production Networks Centre (GPN@NUS)


The Global Production Networks Centre at NUS is a new faculty-based research centre established at the National University of Singapore through a $4.95 million university-level research grant, by a team of top researchers from Geography, Economics, Sociology, and Political Science.


The Centre focuses on global production and economic development, particularly in East Asia, and is directed by Professors Henry Yeung and Neil Coe from the Department of Geography. Its mission is to understand and explain how the complex production of goods and services is globally organized and what this means for economic development in different regions and national economies, particularly those in Northeast and Southeast Asia. Officially launching in late January 2015, it is currently in recruitment and planning phases and will conduct novel empirical studies illuminating the changing nature and organization of global production in East Asia, looking at the impact of global production on, among other factors, economic development, technological innovation, economic and social upgrading, national competitiveness, industrial and corporate change, entrepreneurship and business strategy, investment patterns, global governance, shifting consumption patterns, and global environmental change.


This research is extremely relevant for economic development in the East Asian region, particularly Singapore. As a major intermediary in global trade, producer services, and manufacturing, Singapore has been a key player in coordinating and managing evolving global production networks. In trade and services, Singapore has served as a leading international hub for sea and air transport, logistics, legal and accounting, and financial services enabling value-added activity in these production networks. Commodities traders such as Olam and Wilmar are also lead firms in key agro-food global production networks. In manufacturing, Singapore’s strength in semiconductors (e.g. microprocessors), pharmaceuticals (e.g. active ingredients), petrochemicals (e.g. feedstocks), and aerospace (e.g. engines) provides critical and high value intermediate inputs for lead firms producing industrial or final goods in other East Asian locations. In so doing, Singapore has created and captured significant value-added from these cross-border production networks. The Centre’s research will benefit Singapore’s growing capacity in industrial and trade policy-making, business decisions, risk management, and regulatory regimes. Furthermore, it will provide crucial knowledge to decision makers in Singapore who can leverage on these production networks and move up the value chain.

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