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From ‘Additive’ to ‘Multiplicative’ Patterns of Growth.

Schermer, Markus (2016) From ‘Additive’ to ‘Multiplicative’ Patterns of Growth. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, xx, xx-xx. [Submitted]

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Growth processes are often problematic for small-scale farms as they may disturb their delicate balance of basic internal resources, like labor, buildings, machinery, land and animals. Most of these resources cannot be increased in linear processes and the smaller the unit the more problematic the task of realignment of resources becomes. Thus small-scale farmers often feel growth as enforced upon them by outside factors, e.g. a market partners. Growing enterprises in processing and trading need more supply and obviously are not eager to deal with more small suppliers, as this tends to mean higher transaction costs and varying qualities. However, there are examples where dedicated supply chain actors actively engage in preserving small scale structures and develop a different pattern of growth which is not based on increasing the output of the single supplier but on the growth of the entire network. Such patterns of growth may contribute to a future food system which is more sustainable in its economic social as well as environmental dimensions.
This contribution uses the case of the cooperative BioAlpin in Austria to examine how such regional networks may be successfully constructed. BioAlpin sells a full range of organic mountain products under their own brand mainly via a family based regional supermarket chain. The initiative exhibits a substantial growth over the last decade and has managed at the same time to support and preserve small-scale regional production and processing structures. We use the theoretical concept of netchain analysis to explore the organizational structure and the mechanisms of horizontal and vertical coordination in this value based supply chain. The results of our analysis may shed light on the options and problems associated with a focus on network growth versus the growth of individual units.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Food systems > Community development > Networks and ownership
Food systems > Produce chain management
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic II > HealthyGrowth
Deposited By: Schermer, Dr Markus
ID Code:30736
Deposited On:08 Nov 2016 15:47
Last Modified:08 Nov 2016 15:47
Document Language:English
Refereed:Submitted for peer-review but not yet accepted

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