Purpose – The food processing industry, confronted with increased global competition and more stringent customer demands, is pressurized to improve the pace and quality of its innovation processes. This paper aims to find out what factors constitute the main drivers and barriers to innovation and to explore how far the food processing industry can rely on the principles of innovation management developed in high‐tech industries to improve its innovation performance. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on the investigation of nine multinational food processing companies with their headquarters and/or major operations in The Netherlands. For this study a research questionnaire was developed, based on theoretical insights derived from the industrial organization theory and the resource‐based view. In each company the research director, CTO, or CEO completed the questionnaire and was interviewed about different aspects of innovation management. Findings – The food processing industry can indeed rely on the principles of innovation management. However, there is clear room for improvement. Especially the potential of “open innovation” with suppliers and buyers to leverage innovation resources and capabilities is underutilized. Interestingly, the uneven power distribution in the chain, especially the high pressure of buyers, acts as a strong driver for innovation. Seen in this light it is noteworthy that in most companies the communication from R&D to marketing needs further improvement to enhance customer orientation, one of the main drivers of innovation success. Originality/value – This study is the first to investigate innovation management concepts related to success in the food processing industry.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 8, 2008
Keywords: Innovation; Food industry; Customer orientation; The Netherlands
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