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The role of consumers in the transition towards sustainability. The case of food supply

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  • Filippo Randelli

    ()
    (Università degli Studi di Firenze)

Abstract

The so called “socio-technical transitions” is driven by actors such as firms and industries, policy makers and politicians, consumers, civil society, engineers and researchers. This paper addresses the role of consumers in the transition process and their interaction with the established socio-technical (ST) regime. Then the questions that it follows to answer are: do the consumers can address for changes in the established regime? Which are the mechanisms hindering a transition driven by consumers? Is there a consumer innovation life cycle? The emergence of new designs in the established food supply ST regime will be used as an empirical test case. The conceptual framework enriches the multi-level perspective with insights from organization studies, both in industrial and social organization research field. The growing dissatisfaction for the established food supply, dominated by the duopoly supermarket-global food supplier, has driven few pioneers to search for new designs. To point out this innovative process of “bottom-up” innovation into the food supply regime, a case study is presented. The case of Italy illustrates several important consumer-related aspects of innovations and their influence on the established regime. In order to disclose the mechanisms moving forward the process of change in the food supply network, a number of questionnaires was submitted to informal network of consumers. Furthermore, in order to trace how consumers innovation in the food supply may evolve over time we propose a model which consists of four different phases drawn on the answers to the fifth question in the questionnaire (Past trajectories and future development).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa in its series Working Papers - Economics with number wp2013_14.rdf.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:frz:wpaper:wp2013_14.rdf

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Keywords: food supply; consumer innovation; multi-level perspective; informal local networks;

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References

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  1. Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1977. "In search of useful theory of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 36-76, January.
  2. Eric von Hippel, 1986. "Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(7), pages 791-805, July.
  3. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
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  5. Kirk Brown & Tim Kasser, 2005. "Are Psychological and Ecological Well-being Compatible? The Role of Values, Mindfulness, and Lifestyle," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 74(2), pages 349-368, November.
  6. Genus, Audley & Coles, Anne-Marie, 2008. "Rethinking the multi-level perspective of technological transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1436-1445, October.
  7. Markard, Jochen & Raven, Rob & Truffer, Bernhard, 2012. "Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 955-967.
  8. Anders Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "The elusive concept of localization economies: towards a knowledge-based theory of spatial clustering," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 34(3), pages 429-449, March.
  9. Geels, Frank W., 2002. "Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8-9), pages 1257-1274, December.
  10. Hockerts, Kai & Wüstenhagen, Rolf, 2010. "Greening Goliaths versus emerging Davids -- Theorizing about the role of incumbents and new entrants in sustainable entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 481-492, September.
  11. Markard, Jochen & Truffer, Bernhard, 2008. "Technological innovation systems and the multi-level perspective: Towards an integrated framework," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 596-615, May.
  12. Franke, Nikolaus & Shah, Sonali, 2003. "How communities support innovative activities: an exploration of assistance and sharing among end-users," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 157-178, January.
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