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Changing behaviours to change the system? Dairy system transformation in Germany

Leimann, Lea (2020) Changing behaviours to change the system? Dairy system transformation in Germany. Masters thesis, CAT - Centre for Alternative Technology, UK . . [Submitted]

[thumbnail of Dissertation_September 2020_Lea Leimann_eprints.pdf] PDF - Submitted Version - English
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.



Current dairy consumption and production practices exceed the planetary boundaries and threaten human and animal health and socio-economic well-being. A radical, transformative and systemwide change in the dairy system is urgently needed, but the pathway is still unknown. With regards to diets, a lot of emphasis is put on demand-based solutions and consumer behaviour change, however, an evaluation of their potential in achieving transformative change is still missing. The role of producers in driving this change is even less examined. Combining behaviour change with systems change is a somewhat novel, but promising approach to bridge this gap. This research study therefore combines these disciplines to research how much leeway consumers and producers have in transforming the German dairy system towards becoming more sustainable.
To deal with this complexity, a two-pronged methodology approach was used, where focus groups provided consumer insights, and semi-structured interviews added the expert views of dairy producers. The COM-B model was used to understand the aspects needed to engage with a new behaviour. The actors’ capability, opportunity and motivations were analysed to identify barriers, enablers, major challenges and solutions to move towards a system that acts within socio-ecological boundaries. The transformative potential of behaviour change was assessed through systems mapping and leverage points.
Consumer insights confirmed the intention- and knowledge-action gap, where despite a high level of these factors, behaviour change was hindered by lifestyle issues, the availability of sustainable dairy products and social norms. Placing a high value on food and the connectedness to farmers were identified as potential opportunities. Producers’ good intentions were limited by economic and political dependencies and the social norms of growth and individualism, whereas what enabled them was collaboration and the experience that it pays off to produce differently (e.g. organic production or cow bound calf rearing). The systems analysis found that in order to transform the system, changing the growth-orientated goal towards quality differentiation and the underlying mental structures towards collaboration would be most effective, but also most challenging. The results propose that the behaviour change opportunities for consumers and producers in system transformation are limited in terms of direct changes of the overall goal and in people’s mental models, but small structural achievements on the level of different actors and their interconnections are possible through collaboration. Successful collaboration, enabled also by openness and awareness, has then the potential to shift paradigms. This highlights that possible solutions address several layers of the system, but also require political support.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Thesis Type:Masters
Keywords:dairy, system thinking, behaviour change, germany, consumer, producer
Agrovoc keywords:
dairy industry
dairy production -> milk production
systems analysis
dairy products -> milk products
consumer behaviour
farmers' attitudes
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Farming Systems > Farm economics
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Food systems > Produce chain management
Research affiliation: UK > Other organizations
Germany > Other organizations
Deposited By: Leimann, Lea
ID Code:39216
Deposited On:03 May 2021 09:36
Last Modified:03 May 2021 09:36
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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