Social Networks, Strategic Doing, and Sustainable Management of Local Food Systems

Chapter
Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 14)

Abstract

In recent years there has been increasing interest in many communities across the United States in developing local food systems. This has resulted in the creation of Food Policy Councils (FPCs) which have emerged as the entity with primarily responsibility for managing the local food system’s growth and development. FPCs are necessary because there is no entity, either in the public or private arena, whose responsibility it is to deal with food and food policy issues. Food Policy Councils and the local food systems whose growth and development they oversee are not hierarchical entities but are loosely formed networks of local stakeholders who have a passion and interest in localizing to the greatest extent possible the system that produces the food that we consume. The success of any network is driven, to a large extent, by the structure and nature of the social relationships of the people that comprise the network. Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a technique that allows network relationships to be analyzed and, among other things, network leaders to be identified and relationship gaps to be discovered which if filled could strengthen the FPC. Healthy and productive relationships enhance the sustainability of both the FPC and the local food system. A significant challenge facing FPCs is delivering value in the form of projects and initiatives that result in tangible progress. This is particular challenging when the members of an FPC are volunteers who have constraints on how much time they can devote to the organization. While FPCs may be tempted to develop a strategic plan as a framework for guiding its actions a more productive avenue might be to utilize a process called Strategic Doing. Strategic Doing emphasizes action over planning and is designed to deliver tangible results more quickly.

Keywords

Local food systems Strategic doing Social networks Sustainable management 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography & Planning and The Urban Affairs CenterUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA

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