Power in consensus: Legitimacy, global value chains and inequality in telecommunications standard-setting

Mark P. Dallas, Jing Ming Shiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Power is central to GVC research, but the concept is usually restricted to ‘direct’ market power that generates rents. This paper examines ‘diffuse’ conceptualizations of power in GVCs that focus on social construction, arguing that they exist along a continuum from ‘fractured’ to ‘encompassing’. Then, empirically, it shows how different types of power intermix in telecommunications standard-setting from 1999 to 2021, using a comprehensive dataset of every finalized work item in 3GPP. Given powerful network effects in telecommunications, the industry is ripe for monopolistic rents and unequal value capture on a global scale. However, these are attenuated by a layering of power relations, and particularly, an intermediary form of social construction – legitimacy – which is the primary driver of telecommunications standard-setting, and a new type of constitutive power in GVCs, alongside governmentality and hegemony. This is illustrated by focusing on two major shifts in legitimacy in 3GPP – the rise of Huawei and network operators. The paper shows how power becomes layered with collective forms of power partially neutralizing inter-firm forms of dyadic power, which attenuates monopolistic value capture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-813
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Networks
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Power in consensus: Legitimacy, global value chains and inequality in telecommunications standard-setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this