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Farming beyond food: Effect of embeddedness and governance structures on farmers’ role in rural development
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science. The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society, Halmstad, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0002-0485
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science, Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3377-6177
2020 (English)In: Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, ISSN 0898-5626, E-ISSN 1464-5114Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This article contributes to the debate on entrepreneurs’ role in societies as well as the consequences of rural embeddedness and engagement, or the role of farmers in rural development and entrepreneurship. A contextualized view of farmers embedded—both spatially and positionally— in the entrepreneurial ecosystems is applied. The study, based on interviews with 24 farmers, 6 observations, and 8 interviews with actors within the agricultural support system, uses the Gioia methodology for analysis, thus enabling inductive theorizing. We find that farmers’ multifunctional role and their impact on societal development are central to understanding farmers’ entrepreneurial endeavours as well as their engagement in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Hence, this article discusses farmers’ embeddedness in rural society and development processes. It highlights the multifunctional role of farmers in society, which we argue make them enablers for rural development, an important role that has been overlooked in both entrepreneurship research and policy work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon: Routledge, 2020.
Keywords [en]
Farmers, entrepreneurship, rural development, embeddedness, agriculture
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-41359OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-41359DiVA, id: diva2:1384688
Note

Funding: The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Foundation CR Prytz donation

Available from: 2020-01-10 Created: 2020-01-10 Last updated: 2020-02-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Value creation for sustainable rural development – perspectives of entrepreneurship in agriculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Value creation for sustainable rural development – perspectives of entrepreneurship in agriculture
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Entrepreneurship and innovation are regarded as key factors in the development of society - not least in the development of sustainable rural areas, where they are emphasised by both authorities and research. This thesis is situated in this field of inquiry and studies entrepreneurship in agriculture. It explores how we can further develop both agriculture and sustainable rural areas. Farmers have traditionally played a significant role in rural areas and rural development, and still do. However in pace with societal development and the reduced number of farms and farm production, their role has changed. Today, they are considered as raw material producers, being the first link in a food chain, and active in landscape conservation in the countryside. However, agriculture plays a significant role in rural development and in Sweden, authorities strive for development of sustainable rural areas by encouraging economic growth and innovation within and between companies (business models, value chains etc.). They work with economic growth strategies, but both their management and results are criticised (OECD, 2019).This thesis states that greater contextualized knowledge is required to facilitate sustainable rural and agricultural development. Against this background, the purpose of this thesis is to explore entrepreneurship in agriculture from different perspectives, to find mechanisms affecting value creation for sustainable rural development.

To meet the research purpose, Swedish agricultural entrepreneurship was studied from different perspectives and data was collected with different methods enabling significant triangulation of data. Studies of challenges in entrepreneurship and sustainable rural development were conducted from individual farmer and business perspectives as well as from the individual and organisational levels of actors within the support system, actors such as advisors, authorities, policy makers and officials. Thus, it was possible to explore perspectives on entrepreneurship in agriculture and identify mechanisms and structures affecting value creation for sustainable rural development. Mechanisms can be explained as underlying, invisible and sometimes unconscious and non-rational factors, feelings, norms, values or attitudes that affect behaviour in various ways.

The key theories and literature covered included the concept of entrepreneurship with the intertwined sub-concepts of innovation and management at individual, business, organisational and societal levels.The thesis probed under the surface of rural development, exploring agricultural development at business level by using the concepts of Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Business Model Innovation and Barriers to Sustainable Business Model Innovation when exploring the challenges farmers face. The concepts of Self-leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Entrepreneurial Orientation helped to explore how challenges are approached, by for example understanding mechanisms concerned with feelings and mind-set. Further, the thesis also studied how entrepreneurship was encouraged and supported by the agricultural support system, and, with help from the Complexity Leadership Theory, established the urgent need of adaption to environmental changes and the creation of innovation within the system. The concepts of Agricultural and Rural Entrepreneurship and Embeddedness helped in understanding and shed light on the importance of considering the mutual influence and interplay between farmers, actors within the support system, embeddedness in context and rural entrepreneurship.

This thesis makes several contributions. It extends knowledge about entrepreneurship in agriculture by highlighting the importance of understanding embeddedness and the concept of agricultural sustainability, and by this providing evidence of the importance of including agriculture in entrepreneurship research. Consequently, this thesis has another viewpoint than previous research which states that farmers are not entrepreneurial and has overlooked agriculture in entrepreneurship research.

Firstly, it shows that farmers, to a very considerable degree, contribute to sustainable rural development and also play the role of enabler for rural entrepreneurship. Second, by exploring the support system, and thereby providing insights into the challenges within the system, in the organisations and betweenthe organisations, this thesis shows transparency and improved understanding of challenges in for example communication, trust, management and culture. Further, a model contributes suggestions for how to improve the system and create innovation to enable encouragement of entrepreneurship in agriculture. Third, this thesis contributes to business model research by illustrating the importance of including and reflecting on embeddedness in context and the understanding of agricultural sustainabilityin business model innovation. Hence, this thesis extends previous business model research which mainly considered agriculture as the first step in a food production chain, exposed to the same challenges as other non-agricultural companies further up the value chain. By providing insights about challenges to farmers’ entrepreneurship, and how these challenges can be approached as well as how entrepreneurship can be encouraged and supported in agriculture, this thesis can contribute to policies and strategies shifting focus from primarily trying to transform farmers into traditional entrepreneurs to taking advantage of the enabling role played by farmers. This thesis contributes to show the diversity in entrepreneurship, by providing understanding of entrepreneurship in agriculture, where value creation extends far beyond individual companies and competitive advantages, and hence impacts sustainable rural development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Halmstad: Halmstad University Press, 2020. p. 90
Series
Halmstad University Dissertations ; 68
Keywords
Agriculture, farmer, entrepreneurship, value creation, sustainable rural development, support system, context, embeddedness, business models, Lantbruk, lantbrukare, entreprenörskap, värdeskapande, hållbar landsbygdsutveckling, stödsystem, kontext, inbäddning, affärsmodeller
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-41377 (URN)978-91-88749-44-4 (ISBN)978-91-88749-45-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-02-21, O103, O-huset, Linjegatan 12, Halmstad, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-01-16 Created: 2020-01-15 Last updated: 2020-01-29Bibliographically approved

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Cederholm Björklund, JennieJohansson, Jeaneth

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