Pragmatic engagement in a low trust supply chain: Beef farmers’ perceptions of power, trust and agency

Stephanie Brooks, Adam Leaver, Michelle Spence, Christopher T. Elliott, Moira Dean

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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The academic discussion of power in supply chains has changed from a discussion of the use of coercive power to one which emphasizes the role of trust in embedding co-operation and disincentivizing opportunism. Whilst a number of empirical studies have suggested the former is alive and well, this paper argues that power relations may also be constituted by the self-perceptions of weaker actors as much as by the explicit actions of more powerful ones. This study explores the role of power through the perceptions of subjugated actors, which set the ‘rules of the game’. Our case centres on perceptions of Northern Irish beef farmers and their reflections on their ‘powerlessness’ in relation to the larger, more consolidated processors that they sell to. We find that the way farmers make sense of the power relations they encounter is influenced by the individuating character of the power relations exercised by the processors, which debilitates their ability to collaborate and resist collectively. What emerges is a story about the process of accommodation whereby farmers pragmatically resign themselves to play by ‘the rules of the game’ to remain ‘part of the game’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCompetition & Change
Early online date06 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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