French food cooperatives at the intersection between artisan and industrial business models – Two case studies

Simon Adderley, Lee Gray


Within this study, we examined a sustainable business model which balanced profit and social entrepreneurship in order to maintain their cultural heritage and sustainability, in the face of a changing marketplace. We examined two French food manufacturing cooperatives, both of which have gained national attention by converting commercially failing factories into sustainable economic and employment generators based on artisanal-style and social values within a cooperative governance structure. Those particular cooperatives have balanced both an artisan dimension (producer identity and product values) and an industrial logic (consumer demands and governance strategy). We focus on our newly developed framework of four interdependent and interconnected areas that create a bridge for comparison: Consumer Demand, Producer Identity, Production Values, and Cooperative Governance. We used semi-structured interview convenience sampling of workers and followed up with in-depth interviews with senior managers, operations directors, and factory floor workers. Participants reflected on their experiences during 60-90-minute interviews focused on and coded to literature themes. Validity and reliability were controlled through Yin’s (2014) conceptional triangulation framework. Additionally, coding was used to strengthen the degree of “rigour into the qualitative analysis” and minimize any inherent validity issues (Dey, 1993, p. 59). Our novel framework builds on Daya (2014), Kirezieva et al., (2016), Maier et al., (2016), and Doherty et al., (2014), Faure-Ferlet et al., (2018), Kobrin (2017), Ichijo (2020), Autio et al., (2013), and Battilana et al., (2012), which lies in the interconnectivity of the four areas within the French cooperative businesses: Producer Identity and Production Values are most closely interlinked, Consumer Demand was closely associated as well, and The Cooperative structure is a key driver for workers but not consumers. Our result demonstrates movement to a more collaborative strategy where all areas are interlinked, and none could be separated from the other.


Cooperatives; Food Manufacture; Artisan; Social Enterprise; Hybrid; France

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