Undergraduate Publishes Research Examining North Carolina Automotive Industry

May 7, 2018

Shruti Rao

Shruti Rao ’18, a member of the Bass Connections North Carolina Competitiveness project team, recently published a solo-authored article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Rural and Community Development.

In her article, “Leveraging Global Value Chains to Bridge the Gab Between Rural and Global Economies: Case of North Carolina’s Appalachian Automotive Industry,” Rao expanded on her team’s research in rural economic development to examine avenues for innovation and investment in the North Carolina automotive industry.

She designed a Program II major to focus her studies on “Global Value Chains: Design and Technology.”

A global value chain, or GVC, refers to all the actors and activities involved in the creation of a product. Using the GVC framework as a “holistic” approach to industry analysis, Rao studied employment and wage data, education infrastructure, key firms and broader automotive industry trends, which led her to make several recommendations designed to help North Carolina increase its global competitiveness in the automotive sector.

Advocating for the continued application of the GVC framework to rural regions, Rao argues that GVCs can be a key asset to policy makers looking to connect rural areas to globalized industries.

Rao and Bass Connections team members

Rao’s interest in GVCs dates back to the spring of her freshman year when she enrolled in Gary Gereffi’s “Organization and Global Competitiveness” course. Immediately captivated by GVCs as a socioeconomic framework that helped her understand the world better, Rao remembers loving the course’s deeply interdisciplinary readings and assignments and points to this experience as integral to her decision to design her Program II course of study around an investigation into the design, technology and application of GVCs.

After working with the North Carolina Competitiveness project team throughout her sophomore year, Rao jumped at the chance to develop and deploy her growing GVC expertise on the Bass Connections Pocket Colposcope project team. According to Rao, the team was in the midst of trying to identify how best to bring new technology to different parts of the world – a question that gave her the chance to help develop a GVC analysis for an innovative, new biomedical instrument.

Rao and Bass Connections team members

In order to map the GVC for the Pocket Colposcope, Rao and her teammates interviewed key stakeholders in Peru and identified six major leverage points where specific actions could help increase the instrument’s adoption.

Rao’s research on multiple Bass Connections teams as well as the intensive work involved in writing, revising and submitting her journal article helped her develop the skills necessary to complete her senior thesis, which explores the application of GVCs and behavioral economics to the world of personal finance.

After graduation, Rao will be working as an Investment Banking Analyst at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York City.

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