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Dynamics of asymmetric conflict: The case of the German Milk Conflict

Jan Alpmann and Vera Bitsch ()

Food Policy, 2017, vol. 66, issue C, 62-72

Abstract: The German Milk Conflict developed when an emerging farmer association challenged the large incumbent in the wake of an insufficiently communicated policy change, abolition of the milk quota. The organizations represent opposing sides of a common policy debate, market liberalization versus regulation. The study analyzed the patterns between the two organizations and proposed a grounded theory of asymmetric conflict. Due to the elevated level of emotions during the conflict, the study used a qualitative research approach based on 34 in-depth interviews. The analysis uncovered the interlocking patterns of simplification and emotionalization by the smaller association and rationalizing by the larger association. Results indicate how an active opponent can use policy changes to its advantage and how to prevent such a development. Recommendations based on the grounded theory developed, such as implementing suitable communication strategies, are transferable to a variety of changes and conflict situations in complex environments, such as the food and agricultural sector.

Keywords: Comparative analysis; Conflict pattern; Dairy conflict; David-Goliath constellation; Farmer associations; Grounded theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2016.12.002

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