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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Institutional changes in the Swedish meat industry

Nilsson, Jerker; Westerlund Lind, Lena;


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explain institutional changes in the Swedish meat industry after major external events. Design/methodology/approach - Analysis based on secondary data sources and interviews with people involved when the dominant meat co-operative in Sweden underwent major changes. Findings - The decline in the Swedish meat industry is interpreted using the theory of institutional change presented by Aoki (2007, 2011). The country's former national agricultural policy created a specific set of norms and values. Co-operatives were considered to be indispensable. The co-operative sector was large and hierarchically organised. Therefore, external signals did not create sufficient endogenous processes within the co-operatives. Co-operative adaptation to rising competitive pressure took place only reluctantly and belatedly. Hence many farmer-members defected and the major co-operative faced finally insurmountable problems. A strong ideological conviction caused the once dominant co-operative to collapse and much of the Swedish meat industry to disappear. Originality/value - This study shows that strong ideology (here a conviction about the advantages of politically governed co-operatives) can hamper endogenous processes within an organisation. Management may ignore outside influences, to the extent that even a large industry is impaired. Other large, hierarchically structured and top-governed organisations with a strong ideology may behave in a similar way.

Published in

British Food Journal

2015, volume: 117, number: 10, pages: 2501-2514

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics
Westerlund Lind, Lena (Westerlund Lind, Lena)
Ministry of Rural Affairs

UKÄ Subject classification

Business Administration

Publication Identifiers


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