An investigation into risk and vulnerability in the UK food supply network

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Bailey, Katherine
  • Subject: H1

PURPOSE: The aim of the thesis was to investigate the constructs of risk and vulnerability at a network level for the UK food supply system. Through a deeper re-examination of data collected for the Chatham House project, the objectives of the thesis were to understand actors’ perceptions of threats within UK food networks and how these relate to the constructs of risk and vulnerability.\ud METHOD: Using a grounded analysis approach, the research re-examined data from case studies in the UK dairy and wheat supply networks, from a supply chain risk management (SCRM) and supply chain vulnerability (SCV) perspective. While not in the tradition of a true grounded theory method, the study looked to support theory building through comparison of findings to key literature in the SCRM and SCV fields.\ud FINDINGS: The study revealed that risk, vulnerability and resilience are highly interrelated. How actors perceived risk, along with their willingness or capability to act, were core dynamics of SCV. Innovation was also identified as a major influence on resilience and adaptive capacity. At a network level, vulnerability can be characterised as system change. Thus the research highlights convergences between the fields of ecological resilience, system transition, SCV and supply chain resilience (SCRES) for supply networks.\ud RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS: There has been very little research into SCRM, SCV and SCRES at a network level. This thesis presents a conceptualisation of these constructs for the UK food supply network, along with their interconnections, and therefore provides a contribution to these fields.\ud PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Wider socio-economic and environmental outcomes of the UK food network are at risk and there needs to be more cohesive, network-based policies and approaches to support greater resilience. This will require a stronger lead from government and collaborative approaches from policy makers and supply actors.
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