The purpose of this study is to analyze the link between innovation technology (IT), relationships which affect the relational capital (RC), and intangible value for the environment, focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of agro-food sector (AFS) in which these topics are prominent.
This paper adopts a qualitative research methodology, based on a multiple case study. The empirical data were obtained from interviews designed to reveal the determinants of the Paoloni's CAOS model (characteristics, ambience, organization, start-up) useful to analyze the relational capital from the firm's perspective. The content analysis shows the most important factors influence the relationships of the companies analyzed.
The empirical analysis highlights the strong link between tradition and innovation in the AFS and its positive effects on corporate sustainability and company relationships as well as in enhancing knowledge. The introduction of ITs and the positive effects it produces in terms of efficiency, product quality, environmental sustainability and new communication channels is an important factor that influences business's relationships.
This paper contributes to the RC literature by stressing how ITs improve not only the executive process and performance of SMEs, but also the intangible resources of the territory. Accordingly, it provides both triggers for future research in the AFS, as well as suggestions to SMEs decision-makers to enhance their competitiveness. Furthermore, the paper offers insights to push policy makers in adopting policies that favor ITs investments in the AFS.
Cosentino, A., Paoloni, P., Iannone, B. and Temperini, V. (2020), "Tradition, innovation and relationships: emergent profiles from agro-food Italian industry", British Food Journal, Vol. 123 No. 1, pp. 279-299. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-04-2020-0306
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