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Building Social Capital into the Disrupted Green Coffee Supply Chain: Illy’s Journey to Quality and Sustainability

Organizing Supply Chain Processes for Sustainable Innovation in the Agri-Food Industry

ISBN: 978-1-78635-488-4, eISBN: 978-1-78635-487-7

ISSN: 2045-0605

Publication date: 20 August 2016

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter explores the reconstruction of the illy’s coffee supply chain in Brazil. The original supply chain was disrupted by fluctuating prices and inefficiencies and renovated based on network relationships between the focal company and the coffee growers. It describes the peculiar experience of illycaffe (an international coffee roaster based in Italy) in building social capital into its supply chain and resulting in a more sustainable network.

Methodology/approach

The chapter summarizes the development of different types of social capital and applies the concepts to understand illy’s journey towards quality and supply chain sustainability. The research design is consistent with theory elaboration from a single case study.

Findings

The chapter applies social capital theory to food commodity supply chains. The evolution to a more reliable and sustainable supply chain for illy’s Arabica coffee in Brazil suggests that supply chain relationships are a crucial asset for the focal firm, the local communities, and society at large. Results also show that developing such relationships might lead to better product quality, supply chain sustainability, and improved supply base capabilities.

Originality/value

The findings of this chapter contribute to the definition of a relational governance model for global food commodity supply chains. From a research standpoint, the empirical setting allows analyses of antecedents and consequences of different social capital components in the food supply chain. In addition, the case may help executives understand how to leverage supply chain relationships and identify a path to product quality and supply chain sustainability.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. David Brussa from illy for his constant availability to discuss sustainability and supply chain issues in multiple occasions and for the valuable feedbacks and comments provided.

The authors would like to thank Dr. Christine Pascolo for being the main contact person at illy over time, always able to identify the key people in the organization contributing to this research; and for her availability and willingness to provide feedbacks and comments.

Citation

Longoni, A. and Luzzini, D. (2016), "Building Social Capital into the Disrupted Green Coffee Supply Chain: Illy’s Journey to Quality and Sustainability", Organizing Supply Chain Processes for Sustainable Innovation in the Agri-Food Industry (Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 83-108. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2045-060520160000005012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016 Emerald Group Publishing Limited