A-5/17 How relationships can influence an organic firm’s network identity

A main challenge when organic food actors cooperate with conventional food actors is to maintain their identity in the relationship. In this paper, we analyse such a relationship through the use of the industrial marketing and purchasing perspective (IMP). The aim is to increase knowledge about changes in relationships that occur through growth processes and about how new relationships influence the identity of a quality-oriented firm. We use a case-study method when examining the relationship between the organic Røros Dairy and the retail chain Coop, and its effects on relationships within the dairy network. Results show that the focal relationship influences, and in turn is influenced by, the dairy’s network. Because of the dairy’s strong identity that preceded its formal cooperation with Coop, as well as its reputation for quality production and continuous product development, the dairy has strengthened its position in the network. We conclude that the IMP perspective contributes a valuable framework in this study of an organic food network. For business managers, our results highlight the importance of considering possible effects of relationships on the identity one would want to convey. European Planning Studies. vol. 25 (7)

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