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Global Production Networks in the South Korean Photovoltaic Industry: An Analysis of Hanwha Q-cells’ Internal Coordination and Extra-firm Bargaining Strategies

Authors: Geunyong Jang*, Chungbuk National University, Jae-Youl Lee, Chungbuk National University
Topics: Economic Geography, Regional Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: global production networks, photovoltaic industry, embeddedness, internal coordination, extra-firm bargaining
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This study aims to analyze the global production networks (GPNs) of Hanwha Q-cells, the world’s third largest producer of photovoltaic cells and modules in terms of production capacity in 2018 (only after JinkoSolar in China and Canadian Solar). Particular analytical attention is paid to an international merger that took place between South Korean chaebol Hanwha Group and German company Q-cells in 2012, its resultant global arrangement of Hanwha’s photovoltaic production networks, and the role of local embeddedness in Chungbuk Province, South Korea. To do so, this poster presentation contextualizes the 2012 merger of Hanwha and Q-cells in the beginning and then delineates how the production networks of Hanwha Q-cells are extended through an ‘internal coordination’ strategy and globally organized to include Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, and the United States, as well as South Korea. Regarding local embeddedness, the company’s ‘extra-firm bargaining’ process to establish a new flagship factory of photovoltaic cells and modules in Solar Valley in 2015 and the plant’s role in the GPNs of Hanwha Q-cells are examined. Solar Valley (nicknamed as ‘Route 36’) is a provincial government-led project to build a competitive photovoltaic industry cluster in Chungbuk Province, and owing to the policy support the Province has risen to the largest solar cell/module producing region in the country. These findings help to understand the dynamic relationship between network embeddedness and territorial embeddedness in the photovoltaic industry, and shed a new light on the industry’s GPNs in reference to key concepts drawn from literature on GPN 2.0.

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