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Barriers to Sustainable Business Model Innovation in Swedish Agriculture
The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society, Eldsberga, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0002-0485
2018 (English)In: Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management, and Innovation, ISSN 2299-7075, E-ISSN 2299-7326, Vol. 14, no 1, p. 65-90Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sweden’s agriculture industry has faced many challenges in recent years. Among the most severe challenges are the decrease in the number of small and medium-sized farms, the decrease in the number of people employed in agricultural activities, and the increase in governmental regulations and legislation governing such activities. At the same time, the demand that agriculture contributes to sustainable social and ecological development has increased. Although research shows that sustainable business model innovation (SBMI) contributes to the creation of sustainable businesses and to the development of a sustainable society, Swedish agriculture has not been at the forefront in the use of SBMI. The purpose of this paper is to examine the barriers to SBMI in Swedish agriculture in order to understand why farmers seldom engage in SBMI. This qualitative study follows the Gioia methodology and data for the analysis were acquired in semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs at six family farms in Sweden. The paper makes a theoretical contribution to the research on SBMI with its focus on sustainable entrepreneurship in the Swedish agricultural industry. The paper concludes that the barriers to SBMI are external, internal, and contextual.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nowy Sacz: National-Louis University , 2018. Vol. 14, no 1, p. 65-90
Keywords [en]
sustainable business model innovation, barriers, agricultural entrepreneur, sustainable entrepreneurship
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-39383DOI: 10.7341/20181414ISI: 000431038600005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-39383DiVA, id: diva2:1316506
Note

Financier: The Swedish farmers’ foundation for agricultural research

Available from: 2019-05-19 Created: 2019-05-19 Last updated: 2020-01-15Bibliographically 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, Jennie

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