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Towards innovative environmental management in the Agro-food Industry
Published October 31, 2008
7-14

This article focuses on the problem: what external (stakeholder) and (internal structural/organizational) factors drive companies in the food- and agribusiness towards innovative environmental management? Innovative companies are those considered to have adopted a supply chain perspective, instead of a focus on the single business unit. We prop...ose that innovativeness is associated with stakeholder wishes (the government, the public environmental policy being a major influential factor), in combination with structural characteristics of the firm (like R&D-efforts, culture and managerial competences). We surveyed 492 companies in 2002, to get insight into the causes of innovativeness in the Dutch agri-food sector, and supplemented this data by means of a similar questionnaire in 2005. Structural equation modeling and correlation analysis were applied. The research provided evidence that companies are restricted by, and therefore not comfortable with, public environmental policies, which seem to obstruct innovativeness rather than stimulate it. Firms that(1) have enough internal (physical, financial, social)resourcestoinnovate, and (2) are more embedded in a web of (commercial) stakeholder wishes, prove to be more innovative. Suggestions are made to shift the corporate and public policies towards a supply chain-oriented approach by granting benefits for vertical cooperation in supply-chains.

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Co-innovation: what are the success factors?
Published May 30, 2009
29-36

The problem we address in this paper is that in projects focusing on public-private cooperation to stimulate innovation in the Netherlands, initiatives often lack continuation after the study-phase. We extracted possible influencing variables from business and (transaction) cost economic theorizing, stakeholder and capability theory. Moreover, ...we used measures for classifying projects with respect to financial interdependencies between participants. We supposed that project characteristics influence managerial behavior to continue or stop. We studied 28 projects (20 supply chain projects and 8 biological product development projects). Our aim was to explore the barriers and success factors for these co-innovation projects: innovation as a cooperative effort between public sector/research institute and private organization(s). We derived data from project descriptions and performed semi-structured interviews with project informants. Critical to success appears to be ex ante commitment of all parties. Goal congruence, both at a personal and a company level, and proportionality of sharing in project results are of decisive importance to establish such commitment. Estimations about financial project results should be made in an early stage; they should be used as a basis for negotiations on the (re)distribution of costs and benefits, especially if the value added is disproportionally distributed over the participants. Ideally, project teams of co-innovation projects should bring in complementary capabilities: technical, marketing, financial and organizational. Project governance should therefore be organized in such a way that the knowledge gaps are filled in before kick-off.

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