Alternative Organising and Sustainable Food Initiatives
: A Multimethod Exploration of Values and Value Practices

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study focuses on alternative organising and sustainable food initiatives. This research addresses ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions of organising from an individual level perspective and in relation to values, value practices and social change. As such, this study bridges research on alternative organising (e.g., Daskalaki, 2018; Parker et al., 2014) and values and value practices (e.g., Daskalaki, Fotaki and Sotiropoulou, 2019; Gehman, Treviño and Garud, 2013) with sustainable and transformative food systems (e.g., Levkoe, 2011; Renting, Marsden and Banks, 2003; Renting, Schermer and Rossi, 2012). This study draws from alternative organising conceptualisations and links them to micro level processes and outcomes, for instance, engagement and performative aspects (e.g., Dahlman et al., 2022; Deflorian, 2021). It looks at these alternative embodiments in organising through the perspective of values and value practices (Daskalaki, Fotaki and Sotiropoulou, 2019; Gehman, Treviño and Garud, 2013) and sustainability perspectives such as anthropocentric versus ecocentric organising (e.g., de Figueiredo and Marquesan, 2022; Ergene, Banerjee and Hoffman, 2021; Purser, Park and Montuouri, 1995). The aim of this research is to explore ways of transitioning to post-capitalist and sustainable organising through investigating the work experiences and practices of workers in alternative food initiatives (AFIs), as members of alternative organisations, and how they narratively construct their vision of a post-pandemic future. The research addresses three questions (3D’s): what the work-related values of AFI members (drivers) are and how they are shaped in times of crisis; what the values practices of AFI members are and how they are performed during a crisis (design); and how do AFI members imagine and desire organisational and societal changes to come into practice – their aspired practices (dream). These research questions are addressed by using a multi- method qualitative research design by combining the methodological approach of Grounded Visual Pattern Analysis (GVPA) (Shortt and Warren 2019) and story-selling approaches such as Narrative Collage (Kociatkiewicz and Kostera, 2020; Kostera, 2006) and Story Completion (Braun, Clarke, Hayfield, Frith et al., 2019; Braun, Clarke, Hayfield, Moller et al., 2019; Clarke et al., 2019; Clarke et al., 2017; Gravett, 2019), combined with semi-structured interviews to understand individual’s inner states, sense making processes, and imagination through the use of images and narratives. This study identifies different types of values relational, ecocentric, and anti-capitalist) and associated value practices alternative organising, fostering social change, and building resilience) – that enable AFI members to reflect their true selves in the organisations they are involved with. The study further identifies the projected practices (Sitopia and future workspaces) and thus, bridges the past, present, and future of AFI embers’ values and value practices. The study extends prior research on values and value practices in the context of alternative organising by identifying the diverse ways in which values become manifest in AFI workers’ organising practices – for fostering social change and building resilience. This research puts forth the relevance of values, value practices and alternative organising around food for informing the field of organisation studies in prefiguring social change. It re-emphasizes the values perspective of individual economic agents, such as members of alternative organisations, as important for driving change from the micro towards the macro.
Date of Award14 Nov 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorMichal Izak (Director of Studies) & Maria Daskalaki (Co-Supervisor)


  • Alternative organising
  • values
  • value practices
  • sustainable food systems
  • alternative food initiatives

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