Turning farmers into business partners through value co-creation projects: Insights from the coffee supply chain
This study in the Sustainability journal examines the empowerment of low-power, vulnerable stakeholders of global, complex supply chains as one effective strategy to increase value co-creation and to moderate the vulnerabilities that threaten supply chain resilience. Results show that empowerment that is addressed to such a stakeholder group can be a means to develop specific skills, capabilities, and knowledge that favor stakeholder participation in value co-creation projects and can therefore serve to moderate some of the vulnerability factors typical to the coffee supply chain. The study brings two theoretical contributions. First, a theoretical framework of empowerment dimensions was designed. This framework identifies four dimensions of empowerment that can be utilized for a qualitative evaluation of value co-creation projects. Second, the author conceptualized a direct link between empowerment, value co-creation and supply chain resilience. It was demonstrated that empowerment actions are key enablers for increasing the partnership creation within value co-creation projects, enhancing their outcomes and augmenting the resilience of the supply chain. Furthermore, the research provided two outcomes for practitioners. The framework proved to be a useful tool for early qualitative evaluation and can therefore be adopted and adapted by the management of firms and NGOs that interact with vulnerable stakeholders in similarly global and complex agri-food supply chains characterized by power uncertainties and relational complexities. Also, a managerial empowerment model was developed that can be utilized by practitioners to more effectively design empowerment initiatives addressed to increase the outcomes of value co-creation projects and supply chain resilience.