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International Food and Agribusiness Management Review

CALL FOR PAPERS - Special Issue

The Digitainability of the European Agri-food System

IFAMR Guest Editors

Verena OtterWageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Loïc SauvéeInstitut Polytechnique UniLaSalle, France

Download the Call for Papers here

Abstracts due: 31 July, 2024 (1000 words)


IFAMA is actively working to coordinate opportunities for collaboration among its regional chapters, recognize and support their work, and offer all members opportunities to benefit from these activities. Consecutively, IFAMA intends to profile its journal, the IFAMR, and its annual World Congress with broad participation of fellow European researchers.

In pursuit of these objectives, IFAMA and IFAMA Europe Board have decided to publish an annual IFAMR Special Issue focusing on hotly discussed topics of European agri-food systems. Thematic Guest Editors will edit the Special Issue. 

General Statement

Two major trends simultaneously affect agriculture and agri-food businesses: sustainability transition and digital transformation (Lichtenthaler, 2021). This topic, sometimes coined as digitainability (Gupta et al., 2020) concentrates on one of the most powerful phenomena affecting the future of agribusiness and food industries in Europe and worldwide. These two trends of sustainability and digitalization have their own logic based upon internal and external forces which include societal demands, disruptive strategies of newcomers and startups, innovative strategies of conventional companies, policy-driven decisions, globalization of the supply chains, as well as the rise of short agrifood distribution channels. Some questions framing this discussion include:

  1. How do these two powerful and long-lasting trends combine and with what rationale? What are the specificities in Europe regarding these issues?

  2. What are the impacts and consequences of digital sustainability for business models of agribusiness, food industries and agriculture?

  3. Business decision-making becomes complex and involves system-level, chain and network-level, and firm-level thinking. What strategies are in-house and external companies using in the development of digital services and global digital platforms? 

This IFAMA Europe Special Issue of IFAMR welcomes contributions centered on one country, inter-European comparisons, or comparisons between European and non-European situations. It also welcomes research that focuses on Europe testimonies from managers, original case studies, intersectoral comparisons, etc. The contributions can also be focused on original theories and methodologies dealing with this topic of digitainability.

Themes & Topics

1) System level thinking: Multi-stakeholder perspectives on the role of systemic digital innovations in the digitainability of the European agri-food system
a) Socio-technical innovation bundling for digital sustainability in the European agri-food system
b) Diffusion of systemic digitainable innovations to the mainstream in the European agri-food system
c) Globalization vs territorialization in the process of agri-food system digitainability

2) Chain and network level thinking: Digitainable innovation – organization – fit in agri-food supply/value chain networks
a) Innovative organizational structures to facilitate collaboration with competitors for digitainable transparency in agri-food supply/value chain networks
b) Relational multiplexity in digitainable agri-food supply chain network management
c) Best practices in agri-food supply chain network governance on the digital road towards due diligence

3) Firm level thinking: Agri-food entrepreneurship and digital business models for sustainability in innovation ecosystems
a) Certification schemes of digitainability processes
b) EU policy (including Green Deal, CAP reform and CSDDD) as driver and/or barrier for agri-food businesses companies’ digital sustainability
c) Scaling up the digitainable transformation of agri-food businesses via business model innovation 

Review Process Protocol

Step 1: An IFAMA Europe review committee will select extended abstracts through a double-blind process. Extended abstracts should include the following sections: problem description; methodology; results; and managerial implications.

Step 2: Full papers of the selected extended abstracts will enter the IFAMR reviewing process with a double-blind review process and will follow the IFAMR Guidelines.

Step 3: Upload final manuscript to, and select Article Type as the name of the Europe Special Issue: “Digitainabilty of the European Agri-food System.”


Special Issue Timeline

31 July, 2024

Submission deadline for extended abstracts (approximately 1000 words excluding references). Send to and

30 August, 2024

Feedback to authors on abstracts

30 October, 2024

Submission deadline for full papers

Early 2025

Articles will be published ‘in press’ as soon as possible after acceptance. the complete issue is expected in early 2025.


Abban, R., and Abebe, G. K. (2022). Exploring digitalization and sustainable practices in African agribusinesses and food supply chains: A literature review. International Journal on Food System Dynamics, 13(4), 470–474.

Annosi, M. C., Brunetta, F., Capo, F., and Heideveld, L. (2020). Digitalization in the agri-food industry: the relationship between technology and sustainable development. Management Decision, 58(8), 1737–1757.

Barrett, C.B., Benton, T., Cooper, K.A., Fanzo, J., and others (2022): Bundling innovations to transform agri-food systems. Nature Sustainability 3, 974–976.

Boström, M., Jönsson, A.M., Lockie, S., Mol, A.P.J. and Oosterveer, P. (2015). Sustainable and responsible supply chain governance: challenges and opportunities. Journal of Cleaner Production 107, 1–7. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.11.050.

Chkarat, H., Abid, T. and Sauvée, L. (2023) Conditions for a Convergence between Digital Platforms and Sustainability in Agriculture. Sustainability, 15, 14195.

Del Rio Castro, G., Gonzalez Fernandez, M. C., and Uruburu, C. A. (2021). Unleashing the convergence amid digitalization and sustainability towards pursuing the sustainable development goals (SDGs): a holistic review. Journal of Cleaner Production. 280:122204. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.202.122204

FAO—Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2020). Realizing the potential of digitalization to improve the Agri-food system: Proposing a new international digital council for food and agriculture. A concept note. Available at:

Florez, M., Piot-Lepetit, I., Bourdon, I., and Gauche, K. (2022). How do French Agri-tech start-ups contribute to the sustainability of food value chains? J. Intern. Council Small Bus. 3, 79–93. doi: 10.1080/26437015.2021.1989993.

Guandalini, I. Sustainability through Digital Transformation: A Systematic Literature Review for Research Guidance. Journal of Business. Research (2022), 148, 456–471.

Gupta, S., Motlagh, M., and Rhyner, J. (2020). The digitalization sustainability matrix: a participatory research tool for investigating digitainabilty. Sustainability 12:9283. doi: 10.3390/su12219283.

Howe, M., and Jin, Y., (2022). It’s nothing personal, or ist it? Exploring the cpmpetitive implications of relational multiplexity in supply chains. Journal of Supply Chain Management 58, 26–47. doi: 10.1111/jscm.12283.

Hrustek, L. (2020) Sustainability Driven by Agriculture through Digital Transformation. Sustainability, 12, 8596.

Kiron, D., and Unruh, G., (2018). The convergence of digitalization and sustainability. MIT Sloan Management Review. Available at:

Klerkx, L., Jakku, E., and Labarthe, P. (2019). A review of social science on digital agriculture, smart farming and agriculture 4.0: new contributions and a future research agenda. NJAS 90–91, 1–16. doi: 10.1016/j.njas.2019.100315.

Kump, B., and Fikar, C., (2021). Challenges of maintaining and diffusing grassroots innovations in alternative food networks: A systems thinking approach. Journal of Cleaner Production 317. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.128407.

Lichtenthaler, U. (2021). Digitainability: the combined effects of the megatrends digitalization and sustainability. Journal of Innovation. Management 9, 64–80. doi: 10.24840/2183-0607_009.002_0006.

Pellegrini, G., de Mattos, C. S., Otter, V., and Hagelaar, G. (2023). Exploring how EU agri-food SMEs approach technology-driven business model innovation. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 1–20.

Piot-Lepetit I (2023) Digitainability and open innovation: how they change innovation processes and strategies in the agrifood sector? Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 7:1267346. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2023.1267346.

Schnebelin, É., Labarthe, P., and Touzard, J. M. (2021). How digitalisation interacts with ecologisation? Perspectives from actors of the French Agricultural Innovation System. Journal of Rural Studies, 86, 599–610.

Solaimani, S., and van der Veen, J., (2022): Open supply chain innovation: an extended view on supply chain collaboration. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal 27 (5). 597–610. doi: 10.1108/SCM-09-2020-0433.

About Guest Editors

Verena Otter is a Senior Assistant Professor of Innovation and Organization in Supply Chain Networks in the Business Management & Organisation chair group, School of Social Sciences, Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands). Her research examines digital and sustainable innovations in the agri-food supply-value chain networks from different management fields and organizational theories. Her current research projects include: TITAN, EcoReady and BEATLES. Previously, Dr. Otter earned a PhD, served as a postdoc and the Interims Professor of Agribusiness Management at the Georg-August-University of Goettingen, Germany. She is also the Deputy Chair of the IFAMA Young Board.

Loïc Sauvée is Head of the research unit InTerACT at Institut Polytechnique UniLaSalle, France. He earned a doctorate in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University (USA), then worked as a post doc and a habilitation to supervised research (HDR) in management sciences, University of Montpellier (France) in 2002. Professor Sauvée is an IFAMA Board Member, Chair of IFAMA Europe Chapter, and a Managing Editor of IFAMR. His current research aims to deepen our understanding of governance in collaborative organizational forms, networks and territories in the context of sustainable transitions, and also focuses on socio technological and organizational conditions for sustainable transformations at the territory level. 

Questions?  Please direct questions to Loïc Sauvée:

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The journal’s IF is 1.5 and ranks in Q3 of the Agricultural Economics & Policy category (Clarivate, 2023). The CiteScore is 2.9 and IFAMR is ranked 185/436 in the Business and International Management (Scopus, 2023).

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