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The Role of Social Networks in the Diffusion of Bio-Waste Products: The Case of Mulching Films Derived from Organic Waste in Province of Foggia

  • Angela Barbuto
  • Antonio Lopolito
  • Myriam Anna Scaringelli
  • Giacomo Giannoccaro
Chapter

Abstract

In this work we consider the biodegradable mulching film containing soluble bio-based substances (SBOs), as a new Sustainable Agricultural Practice (SAP) potentially useful in both broadening the spectrum of Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Wastes (OFMSW) management, and improving agricultural sustainability. Of course, the exploitation of such advantages depends on the actual adoption of the novelty from a critical mass of users. Among the various factors influencing this process, we stress the importance of interpersonal channels involving a face-to-face exchange. This implies the fact that people adopt an innovation when sufficient information has reached them, and shows the relevance of the role of social networks in the diffusion of innovations. Specifically, the network position of an actor affects the power and influence he can exert on its immediate neighbors as well as on the collective behavior of the members. This influence can be viewed as a strategic resource for innovation diffusion purpose in a marketing or policy context. The success as injection points, namely, the actors where the novelty is first inoculated, is typically measured as the proportion of actors who adopts the innovation at the end of the process. Following this line of reasoning, the aim of this work is to identify the network characteristics associated with effective injection points. In order to capture the network characteristics of the actors we used typical Social Network Analysis (SNA) measures. From an operative perspective, our purpose is to find the SNA measures associated with high adoption rates. However, being the innovation process new in nature, there are not available experimental data to conduct this kind of analysis. Therefore, we chose to simulate the diffusion process among agents by means of an Agent Based Model (ABM) depicting a population of farmers. The model was calibrated on real world data gathered from the case of a network of specialist vegetables producers in the Province of Foggia. Both SNA measures and rate of adoption are simulated data. The results achieved represent the basis for the breaking down of a tailored SAP diffusion strategy within an environmental and sustainability oriented development policy in a rural context, like the one studied. In particular, this study offers valuable hints on the kind of spreaders that should be enrolled, indicating, at the same time, the path for further research. This includes a more in depth analysis on various structure of networks (e.g. very dense and very sparse, very randomized and very regular, with high and low medium degree) and the investigation on the effects of the number of exposures of the agents to the promotional strategy.

Keywords

Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Wastes Diffusion of Innovation Sustainable Agricultural Practice Social Network Analysis Agent Based Model 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Barbuto
    • 1
  • Antonio Lopolito
    • 1
  • Myriam Anna Scaringelli
    • 1
  • Giacomo Giannoccaro
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Environmental ScienceUniversity of Bari “Aldo Moro”BariItaly

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