Quotation Kump, Barbara, Fikar, Christian. 2021. Challenges of maintaining and diffusing grassroots innovations in alternative food networks: A systems thinking approach. Journal of Cleaner Production. (317), 128407




Sustainability transitions of food systems are at the core of several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In many regions, grassroots initiatives (i.e., community-led bottom-up initiatives) have emerged to experiment with alternative food networks and change the dominant food regimes. While grassroots initiatives can play a crucial role in sustainability transitions, it is known that actors usually face challenges related to (1) building and maintaining an initiative, and (2) diffusing it to the mainstream. However, the systemic mechanisms underlying these two types of challenges in food systems are still underspecified. Building on previous empirical research, the paper uses systems thinking (qualitative causal loop diagrams) to detail (1) the systemic mechanisms underlying the emergence and maintenance of an alternative food network; and (2) the feedback loops related to organizational and logistics issues that pose limits to scaling. It explains the paradox of diffusion in alternative food networks and concludes that diffusion of alternative food networks to mainstream may be achieved through replication and translation strategies, rather than scaling-up.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Journal of Cleaner Production
Citation Index SCI
WU-Journal-Rating new FIN-A, INF-A, STRAT-B, WH-B
Language English
Title Challenges of maintaining and diffusing grassroots innovations in alternative food networks: A systems thinking approach
Number 317
Year 2021
Page from 128407
URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652621026202
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.128407
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652621026202


Kump, Barbara (Details)
Fikar, Christian (Former researcher)
Institute for Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
1925 Knowledge management (Details)
5324 Organizational research (Details)
5517 Organisational psychology (Details)
5521 Cognitive psychology (Details)
5945 Organisational development (Details)
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