Accelerating the protein transition: understanding the drivers and barriers which Dutch SME meat incumbents face when transitioning to plant-based proteins.
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Increasing global meat consumption patterns are leading to a surge in greenhouse gasses resulting in global warming. As one of the largest exporters of meat globally, the Netherlands provides a significant contribution to the annual emitted greenhouse gasses. As a result there is increasing pressure on the incumbent meat producers who cause this pollution to find sustainable alternatives. Plant-based protein’s provide a solution to this issue as they emit far less emissions and require less energy to be produced. This research looks to understand the way in which these incumbent meat producers undergo organisational change towards plant-based proteins and aims to understand the drivers and barriers they may encounter. This should lead to more effective and structured organisational change thus, speeding up the process by which unsustainable industries, such as the meat industry, become sustainable. Previous research into the field of organisational change has predominantly relied on multinational corporations as the data source for incumbents looking to undergo organisational change. Contrary to this, this research looks at a valuable, yet often overlooked economic power in the Netherlands, the small and medium-sized enterprise incumbent (SME). In order to do so the Dutch SME meat incumbent, ‘Bolscher more than meat’ is used as a case study for looking at organisational change. This organisational change within ‘Bolscher more than meat’ is looked at from a theoretical perspective through the lens of Maon et al.’s (2009) organisational change framework which is contextualised by a historical event analysis. The findings show that due to the inherent small size of SMEs they are able to quickly initiate organisational change when led by a motivated management team. However, the small scale of the business also leads to issues with the clear operationalisation of their novel strategy. Due to the inherently small size of SMEs informal communication is likely to be present which presents both disadvantages and advantages for organisational change. Lastly, the Corona pandemic present throughout 2020-2021 has provided difficult conditions for SMEs to thrive. As a result of these findings, this research shows that SMEs require policy support, both through financing and training, in order to help overcome the barriers presented at Bolscher more than meat. As a result, this research provides handholds for SMEs looking to undergo organisational change towards PBP in the future.