The resilience of a sustainability entrepreneur in the Swedish food system

Author(s): Larsson, M., Milestad, R., Hahn, T., von Oelreich, J
In: Sustainability 8, 550. doi:10.3390/su8060550
Year: 2016
Type: Journal / article
Link to centre authors: Hahn, Thomas
Full reference: Larsson, M., Milestad, R., Hahn, T., von Oelreich, J. 2016. The resilience of a sustainability entrepreneur in the Swedish food system. Sustainability 8, 550. doi:10.3390/su8060550


Organizational resilience emphasizes the adaptive capacity for renewal after crisis. This paper explores the sustainability and resilience of a not-for-profit firm that claims to contribute to sustainable development of the food system. We used semi-structured interviews and Holling’s adaptive cycle as a heuristic device to assess what constitutes social and sustainable entrepreneurship in this case, and we discuss the determinants of organizational resilience. The business, Biodynamiska Produkter (BP), has experienced periods of growth, conservation and rapid decline in demand, followed by periods of re-organization. Our results suggest that BP, with its social mission and focus on organic food, meets the criteria of both a social and sustainability entrepreneurial organization. BP also exhibits criteria for organizational resilience: two major crises in the 1970s and late 1990s were met by re-organization (transformation) and novel market innovations (adaptations). BP has promoted the organic food sector in Sweden, but not profited from this. In this case study, resilience has enhanced sustainability in general, but trade-offs were also identified. The emphasis on trust, local identity, social objectives and slow decisions may have impeded both economic performance and new adaptations. Since the successful innovation Ekolådan in 2003, crises have been met by consolidation rather than new innovations.


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