1 Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU2 Danish Institute of Rural Research and Development, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU3 Danish Institute of Rural Research and Development, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU
Danish networks of small-scale producers of place
Introduction: Danish small-scale food producers working with origin labelled products (OLP) experience themselves as situated somewhere in between tourism, agriculture and business. The existence of OLP in Denmark is something completely new for both the tourism and agricultural sectors. Therefore, the producers have to start from scratch in what concerns culture, law, brands, markets, organisations, practical experience etc. In these years, the Danish producers of OLP are establishing regional networks as well as a national organisation aimed to span the gap between tourism, agriculture and business. These organisational innovations are extremely interesting. Nevertheless, research within this field is lacking (e.g. Hjalager & Richards 2002). Methodology: Participant observation of meetings and other communication in three newly established Danish networks on OLP: The local network ‘Wadden Sea Products', the national steering committee for the project ‘Gourmet Denmark' and the national organisation ‘The Taste of Denmark'. Findings are structured through grounded theory. The smallest entity of observation is the local network. No individual interviews are planned. Findings: Previous work has shown that the vast majority of Danish small-scale food producers wish to participate in co-operative networks, which can strengthen the development of their own company. The group of companies is heterogeneous as regards the interest in growth. However, the majority of the growth-oriented companies share difficulties concerning e.g. how to turn ideas into continuous earnings, the widespread wilfulness among the producers (for better or worse), loss of progression and priorities due to blind enthusiasm, lack of growth-promoting public recognition etc. Combined with the pioneering stage of OLP's in Denmark, this leaves the producers with enormous tasks. In line with previous findings, this study shows that, at the national level, actors seek to address three major issues, namely (1) marketing of OLP in large urban areas in Denmark, (2) establishment of an advisory/experience exchange system among producers and (3) common lobbyism strategies at national and regional levels. At the local level, marketing seems to be the sole focal point at the moment. Concluding remarks: The OLP approach relates to the destination literature in tourism research. The networks under study do however not include traditional tourism operators, as the producers have their main focus on food production. The typical entrepreneurial problems of these producers concerning management and network establishment are covered by management literature on entrepreneurship, organisation and networks. Therefore, the new contribution is to shed light on how tourism, agriculture and business can be integrated - in practise, as well as in theory.