Generic article

Networks and digital platforms in food business and agriculture

Maria Carmela Annosi
Management Studies Group
School of Social Sciences - Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Federica Brunetta
Department of Business and Management
LUISS Guido Carli University – Rome, Italy

Valentina Cristiana Materia
Management Studies Group, Social Sciences - Wageningen University, The Netherlands


Digitalization and, more in general, the use of computing and communication technologies, has transformed many industries through the implementation of new business processes, the definition of new business models, and novel managerial challenges (Birkinshaw and Ansari, 2015). Within this revolution, the agricultural and food industries are not an exception: they are being profoundly challenged, too, due to the growing number of functionalities unleashed by technologies (Bharadwaj et al, 1993) easing the interaction between machines, services, and people.

In this context, value co-creation is boosting, compelling agricultural and food companies, as well as their supply chain partners to rethink all their operations, controls, and coordination of activities (Setia et al. 2013) in order to develop processes where all actors can interact and create joint value (Grönroos and Voima, 2013).

Despite the relevance food and agriculture in the current political and societal context, the analysis of the impact of digitalization and information technologies on the industry is still limited. More specifically literature has overlooked the understanding of how platforms and networked forms of organization can create performance gains for food firms and agricultural supply chain partners, given that value is created not only through products and services but also through relationships (Kaplan and Norton, 2001).

Therefore, using food firms and agriculture supply chains as a context for research, we seek to conceptualize food organizing and organizations as a fruitful object of inquiry  both at the intra and inter-organizational level.  We believe that contributions in this stream of research have the potential to yield important and relevant insights for both scholars and societies. In sum, it is time to take seriously the paradoxes, problems and potentialities of food business and agriculture following the design  of networked forms of organizing or the adoption of new promising digital platforms.

We invite contributions that delve into organizational aspects relating to food firms and agriculture supply chains. We are open to a range of topics and themes, including, but not restricted to, the following:

  • How is technology affecting agriculture and food firm boundaries?
  • What new organizational designs are offered by new technologies?
  • Do networks between actors in the agriculture and food industries have significant impacts on their performance?
  • In what different ways and with what consequences is technology
    supplementing or complementing human effort in agriculture and food
  • How do managers’ decision-making processes and cognitive biases
    affect the adoption of technologies in agriculture and food
  • How does digitalization transform organizations operating in food and agriculture?
  • How does digitalization impact on competencies related to ICT or knowledge sharing?
  • Technology is making possible a variety of different business models
    or strategies, enabling firms to create and capture values in new ways.
    What generalizable implications does this have for our established
    theories of super-normal performance?


Grönroos, C., & Voima, P. (2013). Critical service logic: making sense of value creation and co-creation. Journal of the academy of marketing science, 41(2), 133-150.

Kaplan, R. S., & Norton, D. P. (2001). The strategy-focused organization: How balanced scorecard companies thrive in the new business environment. Harvard Business Press.

Setia, P., Venkatesh, V., & Joglekar, S. (2013). Leveraging digital technologies: How information quality leads to localized capabilities and customer service performance. Mis Quarterly, 37(2).

Birkinshaw, J., & Ansari, S. (2015). Understanding Management Models. Going Beyond" What" and" Why" to" How" Work Gets Done in Organizations. In Foss, N. J., & Saebi, T. (Eds.). Business model innovation: The organizational dimension. OUP Oxford.

Bharadwaj, S. G., Varadarajan, P. R., & Fahy, J. (1993). Sustainable competitive advantage in service industries: a conceptual model and research propositions. The Journal of Marketing, 83-99.