How do small rural food-processing firms compete?A resource-based approach to competitive strategies

2008 Agricultural and Food Science  
The study was concerned with the competitive strategies of small food-processing firms in rural Finland and their ability to achieve and maintain a competitively advantaged position in relation to larger food companies in the dynamic and mature food market. Competitive strategies were approached from the resource-based view (RBV) that emphasises internal firm factors as sources of competitive advantage and long-term success. As strategic choices, differentiation was specifically considered. The
more » ... lly considered. The main objective was to explain the relationships between resources, competitive advantage and firm success. To understand the ambiguous nature of the resources in the small-scale food production context, the study introduced a distinction between strategic resources and basic resources and the strategic relationship between them. The empirical part of the study was based on quantitative analyses of the survey data collected from 238 small (less than 20 persons), food-processing firms in rural Finland. The sample firms represented different branches of the food industry and 39% of them operated in connection with a farm. The linkage between resources, competitive advantage and firm success was investigated by means of cluster analysis, mean comparisons and LISREL modelling. The results demonstrated that there are some typical features relating to small-scale food production in Finland. The results also revealed that small-scale, rural food processing firms do not constitute a homogenous group of their own, but that different strategies among small firms can be identified as well. The analyses proved that a linkage between resources, competitive advantage and firm success can be identified, which is consistent with resource-based logic. However, according to the findings, following a particular strategy does not automatically ensure that a firm will achieve success. The analysis also showed that strategic resources and basic resources are strongly interlinked and that the relationship between basic resources and success was, however, considerably stronger than the link between strategic resources and success. The study concludes that resource deployment – in terms of both strategic resources and basic resources – should be balanced in order for a small food-processing firm to have the opportunity to establish a relatively favourable position in the market. Based on the results, theoretical, methodological and managerial implications are suggested and ideas for the further research are provided.;
doi:10.23986/afsci.5790 fatcat:jo637z4aofhx3eg36f3pjkvbwu