Food safety implementation in the perspective of network learning

Zam-Zam Abdirahman, Leslie D. Bourquin, Loic Sauvee, Deepa Thiagarajan


The food sector frequently faces difficulties in implementing food safety standards. Indeed, there are many barriers to appropriation of quality management standards which make effective implementation difficult for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), such as limited access to information, lack of financing and cognitive resources, food hazard perception, and insufficient access to adequately trained personnel. Consequently, one fundamental objective for practitioners such as managers, public bodies and development agencies is to help these food SMEs in improving their implementation capacity, which is usually done through the launch of different forms of collective initiatives such as associations, clubs, learning platforms, regional actions and other forms of collaboration. Globally speaking, the objective of these initiatives typically is to develop a step by step approach providing guidance on good practices associated with the implementation of these systems. The objective of the article is to explore and test the validity of this hypothesis, rooted in a general idea of “organizational network learning”: the capacity of SMEs to adopt new food safety schemes is seen as a whole and necessitates mobilizing, at the same time, 1) formal innovation networks, which bring cognitive resources and institutional credibility, and 2) the practice by managers of informal network activities through interactive exchanges of information, benchmarking, knowledge transfer and translation, and experiential learning.


food safety, implementation, learning, network, SME

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