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Lecture 2:
Wicked problems in & around agri-food chains
Wednesday September 21st, 2016 | Instructor: Prof. Domenico Dentoni
Recap from Lecture 1
Our approach: Changing the broader system where
ag-food chains are embedded (Dentoni et al. 2012; Sen...
Recap from Lecture 1
Focal
company or
organization
Customers, customers
of customers
Suppliers, suppliers
of suppliers
OBE...
Recap from Lecture 1
From syllabus introduction:
This course focuses on understanding, explaining and activating processes...
Recap from Lecture 1
From syllabus learning outcomes
By the end of the course, you will have:
Learning outcomes Learning m...
Today’s lecture + tutorial plan
PART I:
Understanding
problems
PICK A PROBLEM
THAT YOU WANT TO
ADDRESS
VISION: IMAGINE
YOU...
Today’s lecture + tutorial plan
Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains:
• Mafia in food & agriculture
• Defo...
Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture
Watch this video and let’s try to answer three sets of questions:
Actors:
 What are...
Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture
Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture
Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture
Watch this video and let’s try to answer three sets of questions:
Actors:
 What are...
Tale 1: Mafia problem
Cases:
Three features of
the problems:
Mafia in
agriculture
Unsustainability
and commodity
markets
C...
Today’s lecture + tutorial plan
Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains:
• Mafia in food & agriculture
• Defo...
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
…Which ingredients is Nutella made with?
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
…Sustainable Palm Oil?
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
To boycott...
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
To boycott…
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
…or not to boycott?
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
Let’s try to answer three sets of questions:
Actors:
 What are all the actor...
Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets
Cases:
Three features of
the problems:
Mafia in
agriculture
Unsustainability
...
Today’s lecture + tutorial plan
Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains:
• Mafia in food & agriculture
• Defo...
Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding
A plethora of initiatives to collectively support
the “Marche place brand”…
Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding
…Involving a large number of actors across
multiple sectors
Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding
The University of Macerata played a key role as
project partner, trainer and fac...
Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding
…but, despite many cultural & natural
resources, a number of issues persist!
Lac...
Tale 3: Nature of the problem
Cases:
Three features of
the problems:
Mafia in
agriculture
Unsustainability
and commodity
m...
Today’s lecture + tutorial plan
Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains:
• Mafia in food & agriculture
• Defo...
Wicked problems: Theory
Many economic, social and environmental problems have a “wicked nature”
Three features of wicked
p...
Wicked problems: Theory
“There are a whole realm of social problems that cannot be treated with traditional
linear, analyt...
Wicked problems: Criticisms
Common criticisms to this problem-based view to agri-food chain management:
1. “Analysis paral...
Wicked problems: Implications
So, if problems are so messy…
What should we do with them?
How can be make suitable plans?
Wicked problems: Implications
To make effective innovations in agri-food chains, YOU need to be aware
of the problems and ...
Wicked problems: Implications
To make effective innovations in agri-food chains, we need to be aware of
the problems and a...
Today’s lecture + tutorial plan
Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains:
• Mafia in food & agriculture
• Defo...
Tutorial
PART I:
Understanding
problems
1. PICK A PROBLEM
THAT YOU WANT TO
ADDRESS
2. VISION: IMAGINE
YOUR DESIRED
FUTURE ...
1. Picking a problem(s)
Let’s brainstorm in small groups about
problem(s) that you want to address!
Let’s start from here…...
2. Visioning
Let’s imagine a vision for 2020 or up to 2050
An example?
https://www.zingt
rain.com/content
/why-and-how-
vi...
3. Describe your problem(s)
Three features of the
problems:
Have actors conflicting
values?
Has the problem many
causes?
D...
Domenico Dentoni: Lecture 2 on Wicked Problems (University of Parma)
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Domenico Dentoni: Lecture 2 on Wicked Problems (University of Parma)

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Discussion on the three key features of wicked problems: change over time, conflict among stakeholders' values, and knowledge uncertainty. Three cases: mafia in agri-food systems, palm oil production and collective territorial branding in Italy.

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Domenico Dentoni: Lecture 2 on Wicked Problems (University of Parma)

  1. 1. Lecture 2: Wicked problems in & around agri-food chains Wednesday September 21st, 2016 | Instructor: Prof. Domenico Dentoni
  2. 2. Recap from Lecture 1 Our approach: Changing the broader system where ag-food chains are embedded (Dentoni et al. 2012; Senge et al. 2015) Dr. Anna Birney Forum for the Future, UK
  3. 3. Recap from Lecture 1 Focal company or organization Customers, customers of customers Suppliers, suppliers of suppliers OBESITY MAFIA & CORRUPTION LAND, WATER, ENERGY SCARCITY POVERTY VIOLATION OF LABOR RIGHTS POOR ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY POOR ACCESS TO CREDIT WASTE MANAGEMENT & POLLUTION CRIME Our approach: Changing the broader system where ag-food chains are embedded (Dentoni et al. 2012; Senge et al. 2015)
  4. 4. Recap from Lecture 1 From syllabus introduction: This course focuses on understanding, explaining and activating processes of change in and around agri-food chains. This will provide you, as course participants, with a dynamic, process-based perspective to agri-food chain management. You will reflect and act upon the following questions:  How do companies or other organizations (governments, municipalities, non-government organizations, universities and start-ups) recognize and diagnose social, environmental and economic problems in or around agri-food chains and develop strategies to address them?  How can individuals, including you, support these organizations in recognizing, diagnosing and addressing problems through suitable strategies? By providing recent theories and methods to tackle these questions, the course is inherently interdisciplinary and designed to integrate students’ diverse backgrounds and education with the collective problems - and the suitable strategies sought by stakeholders - that we are currently experiencing in local and global agri-food systems.
  5. 5. Recap from Lecture 1 From syllabus learning outcomes By the end of the course, you will have: Learning outcomes Learning methods Developed understanding of major theories of change in agri- food Lectures, readings Practiced methods and approaches to explain change at multiple levels Lectures, readings, tutorials Developed competencies for participating to change processes in agri-food (creativity, systems thinking, problem solving, negotiating, teamwork, forward- thinking, others!) Tutorials, group-work, presentations, role plays, guest lectures, Facebook group
  6. 6. Today’s lecture + tutorial plan PART I: Understanding problems PICK A PROBLEM THAT YOU WANT TO ADDRESS VISION: IMAGINE YOUR DESIRED FUTURE IN A PERIOD BETWEEN 2020 and 2050 PART II: Social innovation & entrepreneurship PART III: Building partnerships PART IV: Continuous learning & change I. Describe the nature of the problem This afternoon, let’s brainstorm on YOUR IDEAS AND INTERESTS
  7. 7. Today’s lecture + tutorial plan Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains: • Mafia in food & agriculture • Deforestation, food insecurity, poverty & commodity markets • Challenges in collective territorial & food branding Theory: • Three key features of “wicked” problems • Implications for systemic change interventions Tutorial:  Let’s brainstorm about problem(s) that you want to address  Let’s build a realistic but ambitious vision to address this problem(s)
  8. 8. Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture Watch this video and let’s try to answer three sets of questions: Actors:  What are ALL the actors mentioned?  Do actors have SIMILAR or DIFFERENT goals? Who has power and why? Causes:  What is exactly the problem?  What is (are) the cause(s) of the problem?  What are the barriers to solve this problem? Changes over time:  Has the problem changed over time? How has it changed?
  9. 9. Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture
  10. 10. Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture
  11. 11. Tale 1: Mafia in food and agriculture Watch this video and let’s try to answer three sets of questions: Actors:  What are all the actors mentioned?  Do actors have similar or different GOALS? Who has POWER and why? Causes:  What is exactly the problem?  What is (are) the cause(s) of the problem?  What are the barriers to solve this problem? Changes over time:  Has the problem changed over time? How has it changed?
  12. 12. Tale 1: Mafia problem Cases: Three features of the problems: Mafia in agriculture Unsustainability and commodity markets Challenges in collective branding Have actors conflicting values? Has the problem many causes? Does the problem change over time?
  13. 13. Today’s lecture + tutorial plan Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains: • Mafia in food & agriculture • Deforestation, food insecurity, poverty & commodity markets • Challenges in collective territorial & food branding Theory: • Three key features of “wicked” problems • Implications for systemic change interventions Tutorial:  Let’s brainstorm about problem(s) that you want to address  Let’s build a realistic but ambitious vision to address this problem(s)
  14. 14. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets …Which ingredients is Nutella made with?
  15. 15. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets …Sustainable Palm Oil?
  16. 16. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets To boycott...
  17. 17. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets To boycott…
  18. 18. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets …or not to boycott?
  19. 19. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets Let’s try to answer three sets of questions: Actors:  What are all the actors mentioned?  Do actors have similar or different GOALS? Who has POWER and why? Causes:  What is exactly the problem?  What is (are) the cause(s) of the problem?  What are the barriers to solve this problem? Changes over time:  Has the problem changed over time? How has it changed?
  20. 20. Tale 2: Unsustainability & commodity markets Cases: Three features of the problems: Mafia in agriculture Unsustainability and commodity markets Challenges in collective branding Have actors conflicting values? Has the problem many causes? Does the problem change over time?
  21. 21. Today’s lecture + tutorial plan Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains: • Mafia in food & agriculture • Deforestation, food insecurity, poverty & commodity markets • Challenges in collective territorial & food branding Theory: • Three key features of “wicked” problems • Implications for systemic change interventions Tutorial:  Let’s brainstorm about problem(s) that you want to address  Let’s build a realistic but ambitious vision to address this problem(s)
  22. 22. Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding A plethora of initiatives to collectively support the “Marche place brand”…
  23. 23. Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding …Involving a large number of actors across multiple sectors
  24. 24. Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding The University of Macerata played a key role as project partner, trainer and facilitator...
  25. 25. Tale 3: Challenges in collective branding …but, despite many cultural & natural resources, a number of issues persist! Lack of trust ?
  26. 26. Tale 3: Nature of the problem Cases: Three features of the problems: Mafia in agriculture Unsustainability and commodity markets Challenges in collective branding Have actors conflicting values? Has the problem many causes? Does the problem change over time?
  27. 27. Today’s lecture + tutorial plan Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains: • Mafia in food & agriculture • Deforestation, food insecurity, poverty & commodity markets • Challenges in collective territorial & food branding Theory: • Three key features of “wicked” problems • Implications for systemic change interventions Tutorial:  Let’s brainstorm about problem(s) that you want to address  Let’s build a realistic but ambitious vision to address this problem(s)
  28. 28. Wicked problems: Theory Many economic, social and environmental problems have a “wicked nature” Three features of wicked problems Value conflict among multiple stakeholders involved in the problem Knowledge uncertainty: not even scientists agree on causes and effects of problems Dynamic complexity: problems change continuously yet always unpredictably Three features of the problems: Have actors conflicting values? Has the problem many causes? Does the problem change over time? (Rittel and Webber 1973, Batie 2008; Dentoni and Ross 2013)
  29. 29. Wicked problems: Theory “There are a whole realm of social problems that cannot be treated with traditional linear, analytical approaches” (Rittel and Webber 1973) Analysis (e.g.. Porter’s five forces strategic analysis) Goal setting (e.g. choosing performance objectives) Implementation (e.g. logistics, operations, etc.) Performance assessment (e.g. measuring through indicators) Long-term, linear planning does not work!
  30. 30. Wicked problems: Criticisms Common criticisms to this problem-based view to agri-food chain management: 1. “Analysis paralysis” 2. “Business focuses on opportunities, NGOs/politics on problems”!
  31. 31. Wicked problems: Implications So, if problems are so messy… What should we do with them? How can be make suitable plans?
  32. 32. Wicked problems: Implications To make effective innovations in agri-food chains, YOU need to be aware of the problems and act accordingly: 1. There will always be losers from your interventions. Talking of “win-win-win solutions” is foolish! Instead, identify losers and seek reasonable outcomes for them too. Three features of the problems: Have actors conflicting values? (Value conflict) Has the problem many causes? (Knowledge uncertainty) Does the problem change over time? (Dynamic complexity) 2. Be ready to unintended consequences of your interventions. Do not pretend you know everything and make no mistakes. Instead coordinate with the stakeholders to find how you can address the problem collaboratively. 3. Make yourself, your organization and your stakeholders ready to learn and adapt continuously and from multiple disciplines and multiple sources. (Rittel and Webber 1973, Batie 2008; Dentoni and Ross 2013)
  33. 33. Wicked problems: Implications To make effective innovations in agri-food chains, we need to be aware of the problems and act accordingly:
  34. 34. Today’s lecture + tutorial plan Three tales of “wicked” problems in agri-food chains: • Mafia in food & agriculture • Deforestation, food insecurity, poverty & commodity markets • Challenges in collective territorial & food branding Theory: • Three key features of “wicked” problems • Implications for systemic change interventions Tutorial:  Let’s brainstorm about problem(s) that you want to address  Let’s build realistic but ambitious visions to address this problem(s)
  35. 35. Tutorial PART I: Understanding problems 1. PICK A PROBLEM THAT YOU WANT TO ADDRESS 2. VISION: IMAGINE YOUR DESIRED FUTURE IN A PERIOD BETWEEN 2020 and 2050 PART II: Social innovation & entrepreneurship PART III: Building partnerships PART IV: Continuous learning & change The ideas that you produce in this tutorial (or after that) are ideal to write the INTRODUCTION and PART I of your report3. DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM (and start thinking of its implications)
  36. 36. 1. Picking a problem(s) Let’s brainstorm in small groups about problem(s) that you want to address! Let’s start from here… (e.g. corruption, distrust, uninnovative culture) from here… (e.g. collective branding) …or from here (e.g. IT solutions to combine food, tourism and education)
  37. 37. 2. Visioning Let’s imagine a vision for 2020 or up to 2050 An example? https://www.zingt rain.com/content /why-and-how- visioning-works
  38. 38. 3. Describe your problem(s) Three features of the problems: Have actors conflicting values? Has the problem many causes? Does the problem change over time? We will work on suitable innovations to address your problem(s) and make a systemic change in next lectures!

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