A smart web of firms, farms and internet of things (IOT): enabling collaboration-based business models in the agri-food industry

Maral Mahdad*, Mustafa Hasanov, Gohar Isakhanyan, Wilfred Dolfsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: All firms' business models are based on their interdependencies with other parties in their ecosystems. The Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to fundamentally disrupt the agri-food industry, forcing the ecosystem to change. When an ecosystem is transforming, the interdependencies among its actors can create friction. Technology providers and core actors should consider these interdependencies as they update their strategies for value creation and capture. The purpose of the present research is to consider what it might take for agri-food firms to capitalize on these interdependencies by moving from traditional business models to business models based on collaboration and open innovation. Design/methodology/approach: The present paper draws on data from four online focus groups that we created to discuss how to co-create the business models agri-food firms need in a constantly changing environment. The paper presents an application of phenomenon-driven research (PDR), an engaged methodology. The study method enables novel pathways to develop and implement innovative solutions. This study draws on the interaction of theory and practice and involves multiple stakeholders with varying roles in the agri-food ecosystem. Findings: The authors found that any open innovation setup in agri-food needs to constantly reconfigure itself to balance the needs of farmers and the needs of the market. This interplay can only support the IoT-enabled ecosystem if continuous interaction and negotiation occur among various stakeholders of the food system. When the farmers' needs and the market's needs are aligned, the space for developing a collaborative and open business model is prepared. Originality/value: The insights gained from this study inspire action and commitment to common goals when developing collaboration-based business models (CBMs). The paper offers insights for players in the agri-food industry who are considering CBMs in the course of digital transformation

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1857-1874
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number6
Early online date7 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022


  • Agri-food system
  • Collaboration-based business model
  • Ecosystem
  • Internet of things
  • Open innovation


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