Territorially based agrifood production in Denmark as innovation system?

The core of this study is the way that networks of relevant producers handle terroir as a framework and/or starting point for innovation. Terroir explains the producers' growing comprehension of their own production as being territorially based, and the parallel process towards taking advantage of the barriers and potentials that this territorial framework sets around products, production, and network cooperations.

This definition of terroir provides the producers' networks with an internal and an external task:

  • Internally, the producers have a process of recognition and clarification in front of them. They are all taught in sectorial thinking, but – by virtue of their production - now find themselves in a position where they need to think and work territorially
  • Externally, existing networks face enormous tasks, as they have to establish room for manoeuvre for territorially based agrifood production. Today the producers confront, for example, difficulties in obtaining a competent advisory service and the existing innovation policies apply primarily to a sectorial context.
In theory, these tasks can be looked at separately, but in practice, they are very closely interwoven. Accordingly, the research questions that will guide this study are:

How could the relations between the terms “terroir” and “innovation” in the territorially based agrifood production in Denmark be explained?

How is “innovation” and “terroir” handled in practice by the small-scale food producers’ networks internally and externally ?

Empirical data will be collected through observations of board meetings regionally and nationally in network cooperations working with these matters. Focus will be on modelling work and combining the literature from disciplines on industrial development with literature on tourism. Both disciplines have touched upon networking and innovation processes, but while the industrial approach only discusses local embeddedness in relation to knowledge and learning, tourism has a place-based product, which entails rich research on territorial issues such as the discussion of the territorially determined possibilities and barriers for product innovation.

The PhD project is partly financed by MAST (Research School for Studies in Marine and Coastal Environment and Sustainable Tourism), which cooperates closely with TIC (Tourism, Innovation and Culture) at University of Southern Denmark in Esbjerg.

The project started in October 2006 and will be finished by April 2009.

Contact person:
Monica Stoye, postgraduate fellow, mon@sam.sdu.dk or tel. +45 6550 4164.

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