To read this content please select one of the options below:

Innovation and tradition-based firms: a multiple case study in the agro-food sector

Valentina Della Corte (Department of Economics, Management and Institutions, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy)
Giovanna Del Gaudio (University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy)
Fabiana Sepe (Department of Economics, Management and Institutions, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 26 June 2018

Issue publication date: 4 July 2018

694

Abstract

Purpose

Over the past few years, several scholars have focused on innovation strategies with specific regard to family food firms. In line with this research stream, the purpose of this paper is to understand how family food firms with long-standing traditions can implement innovative productions while remaining anchored to the past.

Design/methodology/approach

By adopting a qualitative research methodology, mainly based on a multiple case study, this paper seeks to cover some unexplored areas regarding the opportunity of combining tradition and innovation to achieve success in the highly competitive international arena in which family food firms operate. The authors analyze the cases of “La Torrente,” “Cioccolatitaliani” and “La Fabbrica della Pasta di Gragnano.”

Findings

Successful family food firms leverage their deep-rooted knowledge of both family and local traditions to innovate. At same time, they establish continuous info exchange flows with all of the firm’s stakeholders by adopting an open innovation approach.

Research limitations/implications

From a theoretical perspective, there is a need for an in-depth study of how an effective blend of tradition and innovation is formalized, above all, in family firms. As for the practical implications, all the three case studies represent a best practice, especially for family firms with a long-standing history and strong local connections.

Practical implications

The paper shows how important it is to keep traditional factors in food industry and offers hints and suggestions to decision makers of family firms on how to valorize, in terms of competitiveness, their traditional resources – almost bound to their territory with innovation tools and processes.

Social implications

The paper is interesting because it offers an analysis of a specific group of firms – family firms – that characterize many industries in Italy and in Europe. Although often small, these firms can show dynamism and creativity. The paper offers hints on how to approach innovation in the sector while keeping the value of tradition.

Originality/value

The originality of the proposed conceptual model stems from the need to overcome the previous theoretical models, which deal separately with sources of past knowledge and sources of new and/or external knowledge.

Keywords

Citation

Della Corte, V., Del Gaudio, G. and Sepe, F. (2018), "Innovation and tradition-based firms: a multiple case study in the agro-food sector", British Food Journal, Vol. 120 No. 6, pp. 1295-1314. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2017-0380

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles