Through a case study of the Irish software industry, this article explores how an industry and region that was 'locked in' to a dependent relationship of routine production within the global software production network managed to partially move up the production and technology chain to develop more sophisticated operations among foreign firms and in the Irish-owned sector. Relations within production networks tend to become institutionalized and self-reproducing. Firms and territories tend to remain locked in to a particular niche, in the absence of a 'development project' or coalition that mobilizes resources and cooperation to generate a push into a niche further up the network hierarchy. The push for moving up the network comes when a marginalized or vulnerable group within or on the edges of the network makes an alliance with supportive public agencies. Global production networks institutionalize hierarchical relations, but it remains possible for developmental coalitions to mobilize around the connections and resources within those networks to enter new niches further up these hierarchies. In practice, this requires a concerted and ongoing state policy of industrial development and innovation promotion.