Adaptation in Food Networks: theoretical framework and empirical evidences
The objective of the paper is to contribute to a better understanding of the governance of the food networks focusing on two related aspect: the integration among the agents and the adaptation in the face of emerging disturbances. Adaptation is a central problem of economic organisations (Williamson, 1985, 1991), and its conceptualisation is integrated within complementary theoretical perspectives. Arruñada, Garicano & Vàzquez (2005) posit that the assignment of decision rights in long-term relationships provides an opportunity to reduce the associated bargaining costs. Ménard (2004, 2006) offers a generalisation of the adaptation concept for the class of hybrid governance structures. Gibbon (2005) subsumes the theme of adaptation in a complex theoretical structure by framing four elemental theories of the firm. Among them, the adaptation theory asks whether integration or non-integration better facilitates ‘adaptive, sequential decision making’ in the sense of Williamson (Gibbon, 2005, p. 205). The paper aims at addressing the problem on what are the role of the adaptation processes in the implementation of sustainable strategies in Food Networks. After having elaborated and presented the theoretical framework, the paper illustrates and discusses seven cases of governance agreement. Four cases concern with agreement arranged at the Italian National level, three cases regard regional level Food Networks. Beyond the differences in the institutional environments, the cases also differ because of the degree of integration. The field research was carried out by documents analysis and interviews. The focus was on the identification of the five stages mentioned and on the classification of the decision rights the agreements allocated between the parties. The paper contributes to the literature by corroborating the theoretical hypothesis (Gibbons, 2005; Wu, 2006) and providing empirical information about the management of Food Networks in the face of emerging disturbances in critical fields: sustainability, quality systems and innovation.
|Date of creation:||Feb 2012|
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