RESEARCH THEMES

Five research themes are emerging at the core of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) at Wageningen University. This research is collaboratively undertaken by faculty and students at Management Studies Group and their partners at Wageningen University and associated research centers and universities through joint publications, theses, teaching, internships and various types of projects.

GCFSI value proposition for students, practitioners, partner universities, funding institutions and society at large is to advance research and education on “management in development”. We broadly define management in development as the coordination of systems involving the business sector in development contexts.

 

Framework

The key research questions that we are investigating within and accross these five research themes include:

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Development: What are local forms of entrepreneurship in developing countries and how local and international forms of entrepreneurship interact? For example, under which conditions farmers, other actors upstream the value chain and youth entering the workforce adopt innovations that create value, and how? How do entrepreneurs managing social ventures reach sustainable impact in development beyond their own mission? What are the institutions and policies that facilitate or hinder the adoption of innovations and entrepreneurial behaviors?

Value Chains and Networks in Development: How are consumer preferences in developing countries changing over time given the global trends of urbanization, growth and supply chain transformation? How is the supply chain transforming from gate to fork? What are the factors that make farmers and consumers choosing a supply chain channel versus others? How are the formal and informal market of farmers’ inputs (seeds, fertilizers, credit, etc.) influencing farmers’ and supply chain actors’ decisions? What is the impact of public and private standards on food consumers’ and producers’ choices? What are the other institutional and policy factors influencing the value chain from farmers’ input suppliers to retailers? How are other actors outside the supply chain, such as universities, Non-Governmental Organizations, civil society organizations and communities influencing supply chain decisions?

Collective Action and New Organizational Forms in Development: How does the structure and governance of public, public-private and private multi-actor institutions varies according to their goals and the broader institutional mechanisms in which they operate? How are these institutions transforming over time? These institutions traditionally include, for example, producers’ organizations; marketing associations; commodity boards; chambers of commerce; public-private partnerships. A range of “new” organizational forms is also emerging at different speeds in development, including: multi-stakeholder platforms for standard-setting, certification or innovation; communities of practice; multi-stakeholder networks of development actors (donors, NGOs, social ventures, and others); consumers’ groups and farmers’ markets. What are the goals, governance mechanisms, impacts and challenges of these emerging organizations?

Strategic Management and Corporate Social Responsibility in Development: What is the role of business in society in developing countries, and how it is changing over time? How does the role of business in society depends on broader institutional factors and policies in development? How does it vary according to the core strategy of companies? For example, how does the CSR strategy change depending on if the company is importing versus exporting, or on if the company is growing versus downsizing? And how the CSR strategy influences companies’ vertical and horizontal coordination strategies, for example buying local companies, joining multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainability, or forming cooperatives for their procurement?

Organizational Learning and Change in Development: How can organizations sense the need for change, engage, learn and implement change based on their stakeholders in development contexts? How do human resources, human processes and organizational structures (for example, division of labor in units and departments, contracts and reward mechanisms, activities) influence the organizational ability to respond to stakeholders in development contexts? How can multi-stakeholder organizations balance exploration and exploitation in their knowledge management processes? For example, how can multi-stakeholder innovation platforms include small actors in the knowledge networks while consolidating networks with large actors to exploit market opportunities? How can multi-stakeholder organizations act as change platforms in large-scale change processes and societal transitions? How the nature of societal problems influences the governance of multi-stakeholder organizations tackling them?

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