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Food styles and new approaches to innovation

Sociological analysis of innovation co-design processes in the food industry

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As a first step, we lead some exploratory interviews in order to understand the practices of innovation and its challenges into the multinational. The actors interviewed expressed their willingness to innove in a pertinent and structured way, integrating the holistic dimension of food, which correspond to the conception and elaboration by the nutrition team of two methodologies (dispositifs) by the Nutrition team, in collaboration with socio-anthropologists. Then, in a second step, we focused on the Food Styles methodology, that have been created in 2009 in collaboration with the Cirad. A network has been developped through this approach, inside the firm and also in collaboration with extern scientist (from medical sciences and humain sciences). With their own elaborated mission: to bring health through food, to the largest number of people; this socio-anthropological studies appear as as opportunity to know subtly and undestand contextes of the countries into which they are growing. This dispositive appear as innovant in their way to think innovation. Nevertheless the valorisation of this socio-anthropological datas into a product still requires its proof. The perspective of innovation is faced to several limits as the voluntee to think long-term innovation with very short echeances. Nevertheless, these datas give to the actors sense in their professional realizations and appear as vectors of the social corporate responsibility of the entreprise, in a specific configuration between the global and the local filiales. The team who is carrying thes projects has to convince of the double pertinence, strategic and business of these methodologies, they are using for that a certain register of justification; in a specific context of the entreprise, modelled by the double imperatif societal as economic .We finaly identified in this research the difficulties that marred the cooperation between the firm and the sociol sciences research team responsible for collecting anthropological data as part of Foodstyles, in particular on time to transform this data into concrete innovation. The issue of temporality dissonance between research activity and innovation design in the firm is central to this, as well as the borders of dispositf set up by the partner team. This is particularly the place given to socio-anthropological knowledge by corporate stakeholders that we questioned, highlighting the fact that these could be considered "fair", or „just“, in the sense of justice and rightness, by nature, when she did not allow as such to resolve the specific issue of building markets for innovations generated.


In line with this work, and with the discussions in the academic community generated by the article published in the journal Innovations, we started with colleagues from UMR Lisis (Paris) and SciencePo Paris reflections on a research possible project analysing the forms of commitment of agricultural inputs companies in the design of responsible innovation, concerned particularly with the environmental field. The case of alternative products to pesticides, in particular biocontrol products, is actually the main case study identified.

Project Number : 1300-011

Year : 2013

Type of funding : PP

Project type : PC

Research units in the network : MOISA

Start date :
01 Apr 2013

End date :
31 Dec 2015

Flagship project :

Project leader :
Frederic Goulet

Project leader's institution :

Project leader's RU :

Budget allocated :
52260 €

Total budget allocated ( including co-financing) :
104520 €

Funding :