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Abstract

This essay examines the following working hypothesis: Multi-stakeholder engagement plays a critical role in value creation when an agri-food business faces strategic decisions in response to a wicked problem. Three issues are addressed: (1) what is multi-stakeholder engagement (MSE); (2) why is MSE particularly useful in the context of wicked problems; and, (3) what are some fundamental principles for managing MSE? The first two issues have been addressed by other authors and are covered quickly by laying a sparse logic for their importance and interdependence. The third issue has not been as widely dealt with, yet needs to be more completely fleshed out if MSE is to be a fully intentional vertical coordination strategy in supply chain management. Case-based research into the 30 practical projects in sustainable development carried out by TransForum will provide the motivation for a list of five fundamental principles for managing MSE: (1) focus on system and process performance, (2) manage initiating conditions, (3) engage the multiple stakeholders throughout the process, (4) practice innovation management, and (5) practice monitoring and reflection.

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