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Application of the viable system model in a complex sugarcane supply chain

Application of the viable system model in a complex sugarcane supply chain Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce the viable system model (VSM) as a valuable tool to the food industry. A sugarcane supply chain was used to evaluate VSM's applicability to the food industry by exploring how VSM can help to understand its complexity. Design/methodology/approach – VSM and qualitative research methods were combined in an interactive manner to produce a VSM diagnosis. Findings – The VSM diagnosis highlighted that while continuity of the system is not at risk, many improvement opportunities exist. For example, the local mill management lacks autonomy, essential operational measurement cannot be realised, coordination is deficient and a vision or identity for the mill area and a joint effort to engage in strategic considerations is missing. Miller-grower fragmentation surfaced as one cause of these shortcomings. Research limitations/implications – Although VSM revealed shortcomings, it was unable to facilitate interventions for improvement. VSM's capacity in dealing with shortcomings should be strengthened and the merit of VSM in other food-related supply systems should be investigated. Practical implications – Millers and growers need to become genuine partners and work jointly on the issues that challenge the system to realise the full potential that is embedded in the system. Originality/value – VSM has not been applied in the sugar industry context and the amount of researches that explore sugarcane supply chains holistically is limited. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png British Food Journal Emerald Publishing

Application of the viable system model in a complex sugarcane supply chain

British Food Journal , Volume 116 (12): 21 – Nov 25, 2014

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0007-070X
DOI
10.1108/BFJ-06-2013-0158
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce the viable system model (VSM) as a valuable tool to the food industry. A sugarcane supply chain was used to evaluate VSM's applicability to the food industry by exploring how VSM can help to understand its complexity. Design/methodology/approach – VSM and qualitative research methods were combined in an interactive manner to produce a VSM diagnosis. Findings – The VSM diagnosis highlighted that while continuity of the system is not at risk, many improvement opportunities exist. For example, the local mill management lacks autonomy, essential operational measurement cannot be realised, coordination is deficient and a vision or identity for the mill area and a joint effort to engage in strategic considerations is missing. Miller-grower fragmentation surfaced as one cause of these shortcomings. Research limitations/implications – Although VSM revealed shortcomings, it was unable to facilitate interventions for improvement. VSM's capacity in dealing with shortcomings should be strengthened and the merit of VSM in other food-related supply systems should be investigated. Practical implications – Millers and growers need to become genuine partners and work jointly on the issues that challenge the system to realise the full potential that is embedded in the system. Originality/value – VSM has not been applied in the sugar industry context and the amount of researches that explore sugarcane supply chains holistically is limited.

Journal

British Food JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 25, 2014

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