Author Archives: GCFSI

MSc thesis opportunities/1: Individual competencies, organizational structures and dynamic capabilities for stakeholder orientation in Netherlands

To see all the currently available research opportunities with the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, click here.

MSc thesis 1: Individual competencies, organizational structures and dynamic capabilities for stakeholder orientation in Netherlands

Suggested supervisors: Dr. Renate WesselinkDr. Valentina MateriaDr. Domenico Dentoni

Since long time, agribusiness companies realized that to seriously develop sustainable sourcing, R&D and marketing strategies they need to Sense, Interact, Learn and Change based (SILC) on the needs and demands of multiple stakeholders (Dentoni and Peterson 2011, Dentoni et al. 2012a; Dentoni and Veldhuizen 2012) or, in short, to be stakeholder oriented (Dentoni et al. 2016). But how can a company structurally develop its stakeholder orientation? One way to become stakeholder oriented is by investing on its people and, in particular, on the individual competencies of its employees, mid-managers and top managers (Dentoni et al. 2012b; Wesselink et al. 2015; Osagie et al. 2016). Another way is changing its organizational structure, for example reducing hierarchies, increasing communication challenges and encouraging informal mechanisms of knowledge-sharing (Veldhuizen et al. 2013; Jager 2016).

What is still missing in the management theory and practice, though, is an understanding of how individual competencies and organizational structures together influence companies’ stakeholder orientation. To fill this gap, our research team has already collected quantitative data from a sample of mid-managers working in sustainability projects at Dutch companies across multiple sectors (Aberson 2016). Now we are seeking a MSc student – preferably in Management, Marketing and Economics (MME) and interested in sustainability strategies, multi-stakeholder partnerships and in developing her/his skills set of quantitative analyses –  to 1) analyze the secondary data already collected with the use of multi-variate statistics (e.g. confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modelling; Hair et al. 2010) and, if possible, 2) collect a second round of primary data based on the same questionnaire to further expand the database on this topic.


Aberson, W. (2016). The Influence of Individual Competencies and Organizational Adaptability on the Dynamic capability for Stakeholder Orientation in a CSR context. MSc Thesis, Wageningen University and Research.

Dentoni, D., Bitzer, V., & Pascucci, S. (2016). Cross-sector partnerships and the co-creation of dynamic capabilities for stakeholder orientation. Journal of Business Ethics, 135(1), 35-53.

Dentoni, D., Blok, V., Lans, T., & Wesselink, R. (2012). Developing Human Capital for Agrifood Firms’ Multi-Stakeholder Interactions. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 15(A), 61-68.

Dentoni, D., Hospes, O., & Ross, R. B. (2012). Managing wicked problems in agribusiness: the role of multi-stakeholder engagements in value creation: Editor’s Introduction. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 15(B), 1-12.

Dentoni, D., & Peterson, H. C. (2011). Multi-stakeholder sustainability alliances in agri-food chains: A framework for multi-disciplinary research. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 14(5), 83-108.

Dentoni, D., & Veldhuizen, M. G. (2012). Building Capabilities for Multi-Stakeholder Interactions at Global and Local Levels: An Executive Interview with Jan Kees Vis, Berton Torn and Anniek Mauser. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 15(B), 95-106.

Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Babin, B. J., & Black, W. C. (2010). Multivariate data analysis: A global perspective (Vol. 7). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Jager, W. (2016). From organizational structuring to learning: The role of authority and communication in translating individual competencies into the organizational capability of learning from stakeholders. MSc Thesis, Wageningen University and Research.

Osagie, E. R., Wesselink, R., Blok, V., Lans, T., & Mulder, M. (2016). Individual competencies for corporate social responsibility: A literature and practice perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 135(2), 233-252.

Veldhuizen, M., Blok, V., & Dentoni, D. (2013). Organisational drivers of capabilities for multi-stakeholder dialogue and knowledge integration. Journal on Chain and Network Science, 13(2), 107-117.

Wesselink, R., Blok, V., van Leur, S., Lans, T., & Dentoni, D. (2015). Individual competencies for managers engaged in corporate sustainable management practices. Journal of Cleaner Production, 106, 497-506.

MSc thesis opportunity in Malawi /1

MSc thesis 1: Malawi – Individual competencies for emerging business models. 

Co-supervisors: Domenico Dentoni and Renate Wesselink

Similar as in other African contexts (Chesbrough et al. 2006; Dahan 2010), a number of business models have been recently emerging in Malawian legume and maize chains (2010-2015). These models seek to overcome constraints to innovation that affect the supply chains and include among the others: 1) storage models such as the Agricultural Commodity Exchange, which developed arrangements to match the demand and supply of storage owners, brokers, processors and farmers (Sitko and Jayne 2012; Dentoni and Dries 2015; Dentoni and Krussmann 2015); 2) finance models such as credit schemes with commodity as collateral (warehouse receipt schemes), weather-indexed crop insurance and storage insurance schemes (Coulter and Onumah 2002); 3) extension models, such as joint programs and incubators that bring together farmers’ associations, extension officers, supply chain actors and universities (Meijer et al. 2015; Mutenje et al. 2016); 4) seed provision models, such as programs to train private seed breeders and link them with early generation seed producer, seed companies and farmers’ associations (Keoneka et al. 2016; Rubyogo et al. 2016); 5) quality control models, such as training programs to improve post-harvest practices such as groundnuts and pigeon pea drying and sorting at farmer level (Matumba et al. 2013; 2015).

While being examples of organizational innovation in an uncertain environment, most of these models face tensions and limitations (Dentoni and Dries 2015; Dentoni and Klerkx 2016). Recent evidence shows that actors in these business models struggle to systematically coordinate with other stakeholders outside their partnership because they need to keep a strong focus on the governance mechanisms within their partnership (Dentoni and Klerkx 2016). Within this big picture, this MSc thesis project intervenes with the following goals: 1) to describe and discuss the tensions and dilemmas faced in the abovementioned business models with a suggested theoretical lens on hybrid organizations (Battilana and Dorado 2010; Greenwood et al. 2011; Jay 2013); 2) to profile the key competencies of current and future individual actors (Wesselink et al. 2015) that would meet the demands as well as the latent needs of the abovementioned business models; 3) to develop an inductive theoretical framework that connects individual competencies, organizational capabilities and innovation at a systemic level.

business models malawi

Battilana, J., & Dorado, S. (2010). Building sustainable hybrid organizations: The case of commercial microfinance organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 53(6), 1419-1440.

Chesbrough, H., Ahern, S., Finn, M., & Guerraz, S. (2006). Business models for technology in the developing world: The role of non-governmental organizations. California management review, 48(3), 48-61.

Coulter, J., & Onumah, G. (2002). The role of warehouse receipt systems in enhanced commodity marketing and rural livelihoods in Africa. Food policy, 27(4), 319-337.

Dahan, N. M., Doh, J. P., Oetzel, J., & Yaziji, M. (2010). Corporate-NGO collaboration: Co-creating new business models for developing markets. Long range planning, 43(2), 326-342.

Dentoni, D. and Krussmann, F. (2015). Value Network Analysis of Malawian Legume Systems: Implications for Institutional Entrepreneurship. Paper presented at the workshop on “Complex-systems dynamics principles applied to food systems”, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Meeting urban food needs (MUFN) Program, Rome, June 6th-8th, 2015.

Dentoni and Dries 2015. Working paper, available upon request.

Dentoni and Klerkx 2016. Working paper, available upon request.

Greenwood, R., Raynard, M., Kodeih, F., Micelotta, E. R., & Lounsbury, M. (2011). Institutional complexity and organizational responses. The Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 317-371.

Jay, J. (2013). Navigating paradox as a mechanism of change and innovation in hybrid organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 137-159.

Meijer, S. S., Catacutan, D., Ajayi, O. C., Sileshi, G. W., & Nieuwenhuis, M. (2015). The role of knowledge, attitudes and perceptions in the uptake of agricultural and agroforestry innovations among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 13(1), 40-54.

Mutenje, M., Kankwamba, H., Mangisonib, J., & Kassie, M. (2016). Agricultural innovations and food security in Malawi: Gender dynamics, institutions and market implications. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 103, 240-248.

Rubyogo, J. C., Magreta, R., Kambewa, D., Chirwa, R., Mazuma, E., & Andrews, M. (2016). Using subsidised seed to catalyse demand-driven bean seed systems in Malawi. Development in Practice, 26(1), 15-26.

van Scheltinga, C.T. and van Geene, J. (2011). Linking training, research and policy advice: capacity building for adaptation to climate change in East Africa. In Knowledge in action (pp. 113-132). Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Sitko, N. J., & Jayne, T. S. (2012). Why are African commodity exchanges languishing? A case study of the Zambian Agricultural Commodity Exchange. Food Policy, 37(3), 275-282.

PhD student vacancy on Climate-Resilient Maize Demand in Ethiopia

_IMA_LOG_WURPhD student vacancy on Post-Harvest Factors Influencing Climate-Resilient Maize Seed Demand in Ethiopia



The Management Studies Group (MST) at Wageningen University is seeking a Sandwich PhD candidate in Business Management and Economics as part of the research program within the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation).

Despite the evidence currently produced through current research projects funded by USAID both in the areas of farmers’ adoption for improved maize seed varieties and for post-harvest loss technologies, a persisting knowledge gap relates to the question: how does post-harvest and maize market information influence farmers’ demand for improved maize seeds?

Deadline: July 30th, 2015
Read the rest of this entry

Deadline extension: PhD student vacancy on Multistakeholders Platforms

_IMA_LOG_WUR Governance of Multistakeholders Platforms and their Effects on Farmers’ Entrepreneurship in Uganda



Referring to the news posted on July 9th, 2015, the deadline for this PhD position has been postponed to July 30th, 2015.

All interested students are invited to apply as soon as possible.

Read the full vacancy here


Why Global, why Center, why Food, why Systems, why Innovation

Wageningen, 2015 – Editorial

I’ll embark now on the hard task of reminding who we are and what we are doing through 5 words that give life to our name – hopefully without: falling into an academic jargon; disappointing any of my “theory-orthodox” colleagues; nor boring most of you.

Global: we keep the world in its entirety as our perspective. Although we receive funding from multiple specific countries and organizations, we realize that taking an holistic view on how problems, systems and institutions  are intertwined is the only way to make our research and actions meaningful.

Center: we are a permanent, self-sustaining institution that lasts longer that its initial funding (2012-2017). Despite we enjoy working in networks, we have a budget center at the Management Studies (MST) Group of Wageningen University that catalyses our resources across collaborations with many partners and funding institutions worldwide. P.S. We are “center” and not “centre” because we have born in the US side of the world.

Food: we focus on food and agriculture, as we recognize that these fields require specific sets of skills and expertise to connect natural and social systems. Problems and opportunities in food and agriculture are unique and difficult to compare, act on and scale relative to other sectors.

Systems: we are aware that the phenomena that we study and act on are directly and indirectly interrelated across multiple levels. Thus we strive to think strategically on how our research and the actions of our study subjects result both in intended and unintended consequences for the other actors even indirectly connected to us and them.

Innovation: we strive to open and contribute to critical discussions on problems that require change in food and agriculture and on the tools, actions and organizations that seem effective in dealing with these problems. We take a management and organization perspective as we investigate why, when, how and which individuals and collective entities use tools, actions and organizations to deal with these problems.

I hope you find this newsletter in line with these statements and, more importantly, in line with your future moves. We share them to cultivate our relationships and trigger your ideas for our next move together – so please contact us if you have ideas for collaboration.



Dr. Domenico Dentoni

GCFSI Principal Investigator at Wageningen University