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Abstract

Environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, persisting poverty, a mounting obesity epidemic, food insecurity and the use of biotechnology are all examples of wicked problems faced by agricultural and food organizations. Yet, managers and policy-makers often do not recognize that these problems are “wicked”. Wicked problems have cause-effect relationships that are difficult or impossible to define, cannot be framed and solved without creating controversies among stakeholders and require collective action among societal groups with strongly held, conflicting beliefs and values. In contrast to past research, this Special Issue takes an organizational perspective by tackling three key managerial questions: what is the value of managing wicked problems and engaging with multiple stakeholders? What are the human and organizational resources and the strategic conditions needed to engage with multiple stakeholders effectively? How can multi-stakeholder engagements be undertaken? A world collection of empirical case studies conducted by business, NGO and university leaders tackle these questions. For managers, the Issue offers recent and thought-provoking insights on how to recognize and deal with wicked problems. For academics, it proposes an agenda for addressing the topic and promises to fuel a research and education debate for years to come.

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