On Complexity, Ecosystems, and Sustainability in Local Food Supply: A Case Study on Fresh Seafood Supply

Per Engelseth, Marius Sandvik


The research question considers how local foods as networked food production may be studied from an ecosystem’s perspective, being explicitly sensitive to process complexity. This implies integrating complex-process thinking with ecosystems thinking in cases of managing in local foods networks. First, the paper discusses what differentiates this form of food production based on features of interdependencies, information technology, traceability, and complex ecosystems. Supply chain management is expanded to conceptually model local food supply as complex ecosystems. The single case study provides a detailed description of the local foods network of a small Norwegian fresh seafood retailer and wholesaler. Findings include demonstrating the importance of complexity in achieving the sustainable production of local foods, and that this implies management following a paradoxical frame, as opposed to a business model frame. The conceptual model describes how food supply may be considered as an ecosystem mainly driven by economic concerns that are not in conflict with environmental and societal concerns. Since management in food chains is engulfed in a deterministic discourse on how to supply, the model also includes the role of paradoxical framing in managing networked food production operations. This model represents the basis for further investigation on local foods networks as complex ecosystems.


Local foods network; Supply chains; Interdependencies; Complexity; Ecosystems; Fresh seafood

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18461/ijfsd.v8i3.831

ISSN 1869-6945


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