Understanding adaptive capacity through a resilience thinking lens : how deregulation has changed the adaptive capacity of the New Zealand apple industry. (2019)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineEnvironmental Sciences
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The New Zealand apple industry is subject to environmental, economic, social, institutional, political and climate change disturbances. System disturbances require an adaptive capacity to respond to potential opportunities and minimise potential risks. A variety of factors will influence adaptive capacity as it is socially constructed, context dependent, and dependent on multiple factors, including political and institutional frameworks, and capital resources.
The apple industry experienced significant changes during and after deregulation in the 1990’s. These changes affected the industry structure, social and institutional frameworks, and the performance and profitability of the industry. These factors play a large role in establishing the context which determine how apple growers operate and their adaptive capacity to external disturbance.
This thesis assesses how deregulation has affected the adaptive capacity of the apple industry with respect to climate change. The study area is Hawke’s Bay, the largest apple growing region in New Zealand. The resilience thinking framework is used to frame the problem and characterise adaptive capacity. A case-study approach was taken using semi-structured interviews to investigate the changes caused by deregulation and how it has affected adaptive capacity for industry participants.
Results suggest deregulation has increased the adaptive capacity of the apple industry. Following deregulation, apple growers have access to more knowledge, economic capital, and more technology to manage environmental conditions and climate fluctuations. Deregulation stimulated corporatisation which has created a competitive and innovative culture. Several large companies operate across the supply chain and participate in research and development, growing, packing, marketing, and exporting. These companies produce niche fruit varieties, target specialised markets, and invest in technological development. In general, the apple industry operates with more diversity, this includes diversity in the ownership an operating structures of grower and processing entities, apple cultivar diversity, and export market diversity.
This study also suggests several caveats which might limit adaptive capacity, including reduced social capital for apple growers, a reduction in the number of independent growers, and the expansion of apple production onto marginal soil types and settings.
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