Exploring Resource Management for Sustainable Food Businesses
Three Vermont Case Studies
This paper is an exploratory comparative case study of three Vermont food businesses. It examines the use of transaction cost and knowledge management theories to understand how food businesses with sustainability missions make key management decisions about resource allocation (the “make or buy” decision). Results suggest that these businesses’ decisions are driven in part by their personal values and interests and their desire to support other local businesses and contribute to their communities. Their decisions also largely conform to what the aforementioned theories would predict: specifically, they make inputs and services that are within their core competencies, they form partnerships to procure key inputs and support other local businesses, and they buy inputs readily available in existing markets in order to free up their time and increase efficiency. Furthermore, they allocate their own time to activities they enjoy or those with high strategic value for the business. The discussion focuses on how these findings may guide future research and how these theoretical frameworks may be used to better understand entrepreneur behavior, foster mutually beneficial partnerships, and advance sustainability missions in food business.
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