University of Hertfordshire

Reframing the Debate on Sustainable Food Policy: Applying a Business Networks Perspective

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


  • AM2017_FINAL

    Accepted author manuscript, 1.02 MB, PDF document

  • David Brennan
  • Jan Moorhouse
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2017
EventFreedom Through Marketing: Looking Back, Going Forward: 50th Academy of Marketing Conference - Hull University Business School, Hull, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Jul 20176 Jul 2017


ConferenceFreedom Through Marketing: Looking Back, Going Forward
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


In this paper we begin to ask the question: what would UK food policy look like if food supply chains were conceptualised as industrial networks using an IMP (Industrial Marketing & Purchasing) framework, rather than as conventional markets using a neo-classical economics framework? As we will see, there are good prima facie grounds for considering that food supply chains in developed countries are more akin to managed industrial networks than neo-classical competitive markets. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of work to be done before this relatively new theoretical paradigm can be put to work in a policy context, and we can only do a little of that work in this paper. Inspired by Håkansson’s (2006) efforts to extract policy insights from IMP theory, here we seek to apply an IMP conceptual framework to the empirical realities of the UK vegetable supply chain. Although at this stage we are not able to articulate solutions to complex food policy issues, we aim to demonstrate the shortcomings of solutions based on neo-classical economics and identify some lessons for food policy. UK food policy will need re-structuring as a result of the decision to leave the EU so it is important to stimulate new thinking on the role of the vegetables sector in British farming. We proceed by first providing a background to the UK food policy debate and, second, identifying key concepts from the IMP literature that are relevant to our theme. We then briefly describe our research methods, and subsequently present our findings and conclusions in respect of the application of an IMP-inspired theoretical framework to the realities of UK fresh vegetable supply.


Ross Brennan, 'Reframing the Debate on Sustainable Food Policy: Applying a Business Networks Perspective'. Paper presented at the 50th Academy of Marketing Conference, Freedom Through Marketing: Looking Back, Going Forward, Hull University Business School, 3-6 July 2017.

ID: 11626508