Towards Credible Standardization of Sustainable Dairy Production
Olst, S. van
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This research focuses on a strategic sustainability innovation that enables a market transformation. In order to create positive social, environmental and economic impact, scientists argue that sectors should move beyond competing on sustainability standards and towards a more collaborative process approach towards sustainability. The dairy sector aims to do this through the implementation of the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF), a process approach towards standardization of sustainable dairy production that enables them to implement a sustainability strategy with a common language and vision that can be applied globally, nationally, regionally and within organizations. However, as the approach of the DSF is new, flexible, collaborative and different from the conventional standards, it is a challenge for dairy companies to implement such a strategic sustainability innovation. The objective of this research is to understand the market transformation of the dairy sector in terms of strategic collective system building and to find out how the dairy sector can implement the DSF in a credible manner. In order to answer the research question, a theoretical framework based on market transformation and strategic collective system building was used. Until now, this theoretical framework has mostly explored technological innovation and had not been validated for other types of innovation yet. Therefore, this research performed a case study on the implementation of the DSF at FrieslandCampina in the Netherlands, which was done in collaboration with key stakeholders through a pilot. To collect data, desk research, 27 in-depth interviews, observations, and comparable food case studies in the cocoa and coffee sector were carried out. Empirical data showed that market transformation is crucial for positive social, environmental and economic impact in the dairy sector. Also, a validation of the strategic collective system building framework showed that most of the system building activities seem to be relevant in the dairy sector. But, empirical findings also revealed that several additional activities are needed to implement the DSF in a credible manner. Therefore, this thesis proposes a refinement of the strategic collective system building framework. This refinement includes: attitudinal and instrumental commitment as a precondition for strategic collective system building; a change of the concept coordination into the concept governance to capture more formal mechanisms of coordination; the use of levels of maturity of sustainability performance and implementation as a way for standardization of the innovation; the creation of transparency by including minimum standards, monitoring, reporting, verification and traceability; and, the inclusion of communication in the definition of governance. The refined strategy framework enables actors within an innovation system to build a strategic collective system and thereby move beyond standards and towards a collaborative process approach towards sustainability in order to create positive social, environmental and economic impact. Also, it empowers them to have more control of the collaboration in order to successfully implement their sustainability innovation in a credible manner through the inclusion of formal mechanisms of control.