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From serendipity to sustainable competitive advantage: insights from Houston's Farm and their journey of co-innovation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 20:27 authored by Lawrence BonneyLawrence Bonney, Clark, RJ, Fearne, A
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the importance of a strategic approach to collaborative innovation and the use of a value chain research methodology for identifying opportunities for co-innovation. Design/methodology/approach – Value chain analysis is used to map three flows in the Houston Farms value chain; material flow, information flow and relationships. Having diagnosed the current level of co-innovation we then identify improvement projects and opportunities for co-innovation to reduce cost and add value, for the benefit of the value chain as a whole. Findings – The application of the value chain analysis methodology to the Houston Farms value chain revealed the importance of strategy and robust processes in key areas for co-innovation – R&D and new product development. It also revealed that small businesses can enjoy a degree of success as a result of comparative advantage in certain areas but that sustainable competitive advantage cannot occur by chance – identifying the potential for co-innovation is an important first step in the right direction. Research limitations/implications – The value chain innovation roadmap represents a useful framework for exploring the current state and future capability for co-innovation in a value chain. The value chain analysis methodology is an effective diagnostic tool as it focuses on what happens at the interface between stakeholders and how this relates to what final consumers regard as value adding, rather than traditional financial and functional KPIs which make it difficult to explore the competitiveness of the value chain as a whole. Originality/value – The explicit and objective measurement of what consumers value is an important addition to the value chain analysis methodology and the co-innovation roadmap is an original attempt to illustrate the core drivers and capabilities for achieving co-innovation in a value chain. The insights from the case demonstrate the value of this approach to companies who are open to innovation and recognise the need to focus the use of scarce value-adding resources on specific value chains and the needs and wants of final consumers therein.


Department of Infrastucture and Regional Development


Publication title

Supply Chain Management










Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Field grown vegetable crops

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