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The critical mass and institutionalization phase

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Important conclusions of this chapter:

1. The standards industry continues to grow, but is increasingly subjected to criticism. Why spend all that money on certification and premiums for farmers if it does not seem to structurally solve the problem? Moreover, the added value of certification seems to be diminishing.

2. In the meantime, concerns about the future of the sector are starting to grow. What will our sector be like in five to ten years’ time if we do not act now?

3. Some strategically oriented companies see that it is time to change strategy. The fragmented, competitive approach may work well in the marketplace where companies need to differentiate. But behind the scenes some companies are starting to realize they need to work together and align efforts.

4. Then the critical mass and institutionalization phase starts. This is the most critical and most sensitive phase of all. Companies that otherwise are competing need to learn to trust each other, share information, and agree on high-level collaborative strategies. This includes working together with national governments, which in some cases seems to be an even bigger challenge from both sides.

5. While the leading companies come together on neutral ground, others feel excluded and threatened. This includes former allies such as the standard organizations and the NGOs who used to be companies’ partners in change.

6. Gradually, acceptance of a high-level, collaborative strategy grows, and more and more companies and initiatives start to align themselves with it. If this phase is managed successfully, the entire sector is on the verge of a tipping point.
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Keywords: business management; cocoa; coffee sector; collaboration; critical mass and institutionalization phase; food systems; innovation; leadership; market transformation; resisting change; sustainable agriculture; sustainable food production

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2014

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