Trasformare lo spreco alimentare in risorsa sociale: Una soluzione organizzativa

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Economic growth often generates negative externalities such as pollution, waste, overpopulation, poverty and social exclusion. Place-based organizational fields are a promising level of analysis to understand the opportunities that businesses, public institutions and social enterprises can leverage to take on the externality challenges they face.  The aim of this paper is to investigate how collaborative innovation and (ICT-enabled) changes at the level of the organizational field can generate value for both individual firms (increased profits and legitimation) and territorial systems (increased positive and/or decreased negative externalities). In particular, this study analyses a transition to an innovative system for recovering fruit and vegetable surpluses in one of the biggest Italian farmer markets. In the case analysed, wholesalers donate products to non-profit associations that assist people in marginal conditions. These activities are coordinated through a just-in-time system that empowers network partners and eliminates the need for storage. The new institutional and organizational solution allows the food wholesalers to cut their costs, improve processes and enhance legitimation, while contributing to reduce environmental impacts and improve public health and social inclusion.