In the early 1990s entrepreneurial horticulturists realised that Australia appeared to have the potential to
develop a commercial bamboo industry. Initial market reviews showed possible domestic and international markets for Australian bamboo products and in 1998 industry pioneers formed the Australian Commercial Bamboo Corporation (ACBC), a representative industry body. The ACBC was a group of just over 40 bamboo growers who had a common interest in developing the commercial potential of the bamboo industry.
The goal of the ACBC members to develop their industry was the catalyst for the research reported in this thesis. The group was enthusiastic but lacked the knowledge, experience and networks to create a commercial vehicle capable of marketing the anticipated significant volumes of bamboo shoots available in the near future. This thesis presents research into the development of the bamboo shoot industry in Australia by detailing a strategic intervention into the development of the Australian Commercial Bamboo Corporation between May 1999 and June
2002. The objective of this intervention was to work with a core group of participants, using supply chain management principles, to address constraints to the group's development.
The application of supply chain management principles to the ACBC influenced the group's structure and culture and led to the empowerment of the group to take responsibility for managing its own activities. The motivation behind this approach was no only to aid the ACBC to address the limitations to its own development, but also to provide role model for the wider bamboo industry, and perhaps other new horticultural industries.
The success of this core group (the ACBC) over the three years of the intervention demonstrates that supply chain management principles can provide an integrative framework for new industry development. The ACBC is now Australia's largest bamboo grower group comprising more than 90 members who between them
command more than three quarters of the industry's plantings. For three years the ACBC has been engaged in developing both domestic and export markets for bamboo shoots. Through its domestic brand, 'Cockatoo Bamboo', it is now responsible for the majority of domestic trade in high quality fresh bamboo shoots. The ACBC now has an established, grower regulated HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) based quality system and is in a position to supply its export brand, 'Kangaroo Bamboo', to international markets. The ACBC has investigated the potential of five major export markets and is continuing to search for other markets.
The intervention process was grounded in a supply chain management framework adapted to the development of new industries. The framework was based on the need to concurrently manage three areas of new industry development:
• The development of a consumer
• The development of cooperative relationships
• The development of effective information and communication systems.
This framework, built on theoretical and empirical perspectives, delivered six guiding principles of supply chain management to these three areas of new industry development. Such a framework has never before been reported in literature on developing new and emerging agricultural industries.
The results from the application of this framework to the ACBC demonstrate that the development of supply chain management principles allowed three of the major risks to new industry development to be addressed:
• Lack of accurate information
• Lack of a strategic orientation that incorporates the needs of the
• Lack of strategic action and collective vision.
Action learning formed an integral part of the intervention process and was used as a tool for empowering the ACBC as a group of individuals with a common purpose. When taken as a conceptual package, the supply chain management framework, applied using action learning and strategic intervention techniques, represents an important advance in better understanding both strategic and operational approaches to new industry development in horticulture. Through participatory observation and action learning the primary data sources used in the study were the fellow participants in the process.
The case of the ACBC as presented in this thesis cannot be used alone to develop generalisable theory, but it does contain valuable lessons for other industries by providing new theoretical insights into the phenomenon of
new industry development. It also provides guidance for future researchers interested in studying or influencing the development of new crop industries which in turn may also help to identify more general theoretical propositions relating to the application of supply chain principles in new agricultural industries.