How Social Unrest Started Innovations in Food Supply Chains: Simulation of Opinion Dynamics

Buurma, J.S.; Hennen, W.H.G.J.; Verwaart, T.


Transitions leading to sociotechnical innovations in food supply chains have been described in dramaturgical analyses on the basis of newspaper articles and parliamentary records. The time scale of such transitions driven by aroused public opinion is typically a decade. Actors are primary producers (farmers), other supply chain parties, authorities, NGOs voicing particular opinions, political parties, and consumers. Their interactions and reactions to external events are modelled in an agent-based simulation. The purposes of the simulation are (1) to validate that hypothetical relations derived from the dramaturgical analysis indeed lead to the emergence of the observed transitions, and (2) to study how the system could have developed under different behaviours or a different course of external events. Simulation results and a sensitivity analysis are discussed. The simulation shows particularly sensitive for the participation of both moderate and activist NGOs.