Case Study

Rabobank: Making sustainability the norm, making the norm sustainable

14 pages
December 2001
Reference: IMD-2-0096

Over the 1990s environmental problems, particularly ground water pollution, and the outbreaks of animal diseases (swine fever, mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease) created public and political concern. The Dutch ministry for agriculture introduced corrective regulatory measures that lead to an increase in farmers’ production costs. The additional cost could not be compensated by higher proceeds since retailers were dictating the prices and EU support prices were decreasing according to the latest policy reforms. Rabobank is an internationally operating Dutch cooperative bank with a traditionally strong position among Dutch farmers. It faces the challenge of ensuring the long-term viability of this customer segment. Organic farming is a possible solution because demand from the consumer is currently strong. Initial efforts availed? an organic pig farming agreement, which is to be put into practice shortly. Pig farmers willing to switch from conventional to organic breeding methods are needed. Farmers are resistant to change. The bank’s senior management, the local bank managers and, most importantly, the bank’s advisors who directly deal with farmers are also reticent. A new division for sustainability and social innovation, created in January 2001, faces the task of promoting sustainability, and therefore either more sustainable or organic farming. What is the bank’s role in this situation? How can it leverage change on its own? With whom could it form alliances and how?

Banking, Farming, Food Chain, Change Management, Food, Agriculture, Corporate Sustainability Management
October 2001
Field Research
© 2001
Available Languages
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