PhD defence

Reset the game: When the purpose of innovation is social value creation instead of maximizing profits

PhD candidate J (Jilde) Garst PhD MSc
Promotor Onno prof.dr. SWF (Onno) Omta
dr. V (Vincent) Blok
Co-promotor dr L Jansen
Organisation Wageningen University, Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS), Business Management & Organisation

Wed 5 February 2020 16:00 to 17:30

Venue Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen


In the battle against overweight and diet-related diseases (e.g. type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases), there is an increasing pressure on food companies to reformulate the composition of their products. For this healthy product innovation, food companies need to navigate two types of conflict: 1) there is disagreement in society on what is a healthy; 2) the health requirements are not always easy to combine with other product requirements, such as taste or price. This dissertation discusses how the motives and organizational capacities influence the ability of food companies to conduct healthy product innovation. First, companies should not only act on instrumental motives – i.e. healthy product innovation contributes to the profitability of the firm – but also on moral motives – i.e. healthy product innovation contributes to public health. Second, our research shows that companies should be able to a) determine what ‘healthy’ means for their products, b) communicate health requirements consistently within their organization, and c) ask and process feedback from non-commercial stakeholders about the healthiness of their products. Finally, our study on the health label ‘t Vinkje showed that making the external product criteria stricter had positive and negative effects on the healthy innovation efforts of the participating companies.