Broken food supply chains: priority norms for exchange partnerships in developing countries

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The purpose of this research is to examine the challenges and opportunities behind developing a collaborative food supply chain (FSC) in the context of Punjab, India. To achieve the purpose, we use relational exchange theory (RET). We adopted a mixed-methods approach, including focus groups and observations. We analyzed the data to identify themes and in particular, the RET norms that inductively emerged. We found several challenges to building collaborative FSC partnerships. The challenges were especially the domination of FSCs by limited information exchange and power imbalances, characterized by limited role integrity and large transaction commitment effects. Guided by the RET, our findings demonstrate a need to prioritize partnership solidarity, information exchange, reciprocal benefits within deep collaborative FSC partnerships, and at the same time, restrain power advantages. Using RET, we contribute to understanding FSCs in developing countries by demonstrating that there is a staged norm demonstration to initiate and build collaborative exchange partnerships; a small set of specific norms need to be established to initiate collaborative FSC partnerships. We also see that intermediaries have a debilitating effect on initiating collaborative FSC partnerships, and as such should be removed to facilitate direct relationships between supply chain partners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133964
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022


  • Case study
  • Developing country
  • Food supply chains
  • Partnerships
  • Relational norms
  • Sustainable development goals

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