An Important Health WarningorA Guide for Using this Handbook
Lest anyone feel overwhelmed by the depth of detail in this Handbook, especiallywith respect to the sections on methodology, we would like to emphasise at the outset:this Handbook is not meant to be used or read as a comprehensive step by step process that has to be followed in order to undertake a value chain analysis. We knowof no value chain analysis that has comprehensively covered all the aspects dealt within the following pages, and certainly not in the methodologically sequential Handbook set out below. Indeed to try and do so in this form would be methodologicallyoverwhelming, and would certainly bore any reader of such an analysis to tears.Our intention in producing a Handbook on researching value chains is to try andcomprehensively cover as many aspects of value chain analysis as possible so as toallow researchers to dip in and utilise what is relevant and where it is appropriate. It isnot an attempt to restrict researchers within a methodological strait-jacket, but rather to free them to use whatever tools are deemed suitable from the variety presented below.The text below attempts to cover the broad terrain of researching value chains, andhence spans the contextually relevant, the conceptually abstract, the methodologically particular, and the policy relevant. Part 3 on Methodology can therefore be read in anumber of ways: as a form of expanding the conceptual issues raised in Part 1 onBasic Definitions and Part 2 on Analytic Constructs; or as an array of possibletechnical tools,
of which may be usefully adopted and methodologically appliedeither partially or fully depending on circumstances; or whole parts can be skippedand not read at all.Indeed, apart from using it as a research tool, it is not even our intention that everyoneshould read the Handbook in the way one would go through a (good) novel – sequentially, and from cover to cover. We therefore urge readers to use their commonsense and treat it as one does an edited book, or researchers to read it in the same wayone reads a mechanics manual for finding out about one’s car. Treat the contents pageas an à la carte menu, read the bits that are interesting, take what is relevant for whatever research task is at hand, and skim what is not relevant.