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Title: 5. Entrepreneursp in context II: Entrepreneurship and farms


1
5. Entrepreneursp in context II Entrepreneurship
and farms
2
5. Entrepreneursp in context II Entrepreneurship
and farms
  • A. Farms and the changing rural small business
  • B. Policy frames in the farm sector
  • C. Entrepreneurship and farmers
  • D. Entrepreneur identity and entrepreneurial
    agency among farmers
  • E. Entrepreneurial skills and the adoption of
    entrepreneurship discourse?

3
A. Farms and the changing rural small business
  • Structural change in acriculture globalisation
    free markets competitiveness social, regional
    and ecological concerns in EU-politics
  • Finland Member of the EU since 1995
  • Decline in the number of farms
  • 1994 103 000
  • 1995 95 600
  • 2000 77 900
  • 2005 69 000
  • 2009 63 700

4
A. Farms and the changing rural small business
  • Growth in the average size
  • 1995 23 ha arable land
  • 2009 35 ha
  • Growth in the overall productivity in 2009 the
    same amount of input yielded 21 more output than
    in 1992
  • Agricultural income 1995 1,549 million 2009
    845 million
  • Support payments represent 43 of the total
    return on agriculture and horticulture (1.9
    billion/4.6 billion)

5
A. Farms and the changing rural small business
  • Employment
  • Agriculture 1995 140 000 2009 90 000
  • Trade of agricultural inputs 20 000 (2009)
  • Food industry 1995 45 000 2009 35 000
  • Food trade 50 000
  • Restaurant catering services 1995 46 000
    2009 66 000
  • Food sector in all almost 300 000

6
A. Farms and the changing rural small business
  • Rural small businesses
  • Basic agriculture farms
  • 200058 000 2007 50 150
  • Diversified farms
  • 2000 21 800 2007 23 200
  • Other rural small firms (less than 20 persons)
  • 2000 56 600 2007 69 400

7
A. Farms and the changing rural small business
  • Diversified activities (2007)
  • Primary prod. (other than agriculture
    forestry) 1500 farms
  • Industry 4700 (food wood processing,
    handicraft, peat energy production, metal
    products)
  • Construction 1000
  • Trade 1300
  • Services 14 500 (tourism, machine contracting,
    care services, transportation, horse husbandry
    services)

8
B. Policy frames in the farm sector
  • Potter Tilzey 2005 Agricultural policy
    discourses in the European post-Fordist
    transition neoliberalism, neomercantilism and
    multifunctionality
  • Phillipson et al. 2004 Treating farms as firms?
    The evolution of farm business support from
    productionist to entrepreneurial models.
    Environment and Planning C Government and Policy
    2004, volume 22, pages 31 54.

9
Agricultural restructuring and related policy
discourses?
  • There is neoliberalism but also discourses that
    can be (and have been) associated with
    entrepreneurship (multifunctionality,
    neomercantilism)

10
Entrepreneurship discourses and the farm context?
  • Phillipson et al. (2004) Treating farms as firms?
    The evolution of farm business support from
    productionist to entrepreneurial models.
    (Environment and Planning C Government and
    Policy 2004, volume 22, pages 31 54.)
  • Throughout the European Union (EU) farming
    enterprises have traditionally operated within a
    very different political and economic environment
    from their nonagricultural counterparts.
    Agricultural activities have been governed by a
    separate set of policy objectives, political
    institutions, and support agencies.
  • However, this agricultural exceptionalism' is
    being challenged via the liberalisation of
    markets, reform of government institutions, and
    demands for the closer and more strategic
    integration of farming within wider local and
    regional development initiatives. (p. 31)

11
Potter Tilzey 2005, 587 (Agricultural policy
discourses in the European post-Fordist
transition neoliberalism, neomercantilism and
multifunctionality)
  • While traditional family-farming constituencies,
    particularly those of neomercantilist and social
    protectionist persuasions, do continue actively
    and with varying degrees of success to defend
    state assistance in one form or another, the
    emergence of nonproductive fractions of agro-food
    capital such as processors, distributors and
    retailers as key and influential players in a
    form or another, the last 20 years has meant that
    agricultural market liberalization and the
    accelerated dismantling of state support now has
    strong support as a policy project (Cafruny,
    1989 Hart, 1997 McMichael, 2000 Josling, 2002).

12
Potter Tilzey 2005, 589
  • However, while it may be true that the WTO
    negotiations created a frame within which
    neoliberal interests could advance, a deeper
    understanding of the formative influences is
    required in order to explain why a neoliberal
    agenda for reform now began so strongly to
    emerge. Many of these derive from the
    restructuring of agriculture and the emergence of
    an agro-food industry composed of processors,
    distributors and retailers increasingly aligned
    to the interests of corporate capital.
  • While these 'nonproductive fractions of
    agro-capital may not exhibit all the
    characteristics of vertically integrated,
    transnational sectors such as electronics,
    clothing or automobile production (Goodman,
    1997), they are now sufficiently disembedded from
    national and regional contexts and geared to the
    supply of world markets to be described as global
    in outlook and orientation (Josling, 2002).
  • This has eroded the coherence of the
    agricultural policy community, challenging
    corporatist models of policy governance and
    introducing new discourses into the agricultural
    policy debate which emphasize international
    competitiveness and improved overseas market
    access (McMichael, 2000).

13
Potter Tilzey 2005, 589
  • Competing discourses
  • -multifunctionalism
  • -neomercantilism

14
Multifunctionalism
  • The concept of multifunctionality has its roots
    in a social welfare justification for state
    assistance which dates from the earliest years of
    the CAP (Potter, 2004). Since the mid-1980s,
    policy-makers have gradually acknowledged the
    need to diversify the income base of family farms
    by capitalizing on agriculture's ancillary
    functions such as biodiversity, landscape and
    cultural heritage.

15
Multifunctionalism
  • Thus, advocates of strong multifunctionality
    position their case firmly within what Reiger
    (1977) has called 'the moral economy of the
    European Community' (sic) by regarding the
    activity of farming as one of the defining
    conditions of rural space, the purpose of state
    assistance being to create the conditions under
    which family farming, rural landscapes and
    society can flourish.

16
Neomercantilism
  • Advocates of neomercantilism in agricultural
    policy, by contrast, start from an essentially
    productivist conception of the farmer's vocation,
    regarding the function of the state being to
    safeguard and underwrite productive capacity and
    export potential.

17
C. Entrepreneurship and farmers
  • a taken-for-granted assumption that market
    liberalisation and the dissolution of state
    protection (intervention through subsidies and
    regulation) creates the need for farmers to
    response entrepreurially
  • Freedom to farm to market demand
  • Not so simple, however

18
Phillipson et al. (2004, 32-33)
  • Ongoing trade liberalisation as well as reform
    of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are
    leading to increased pressure for the
    reorientation of farming to a more
    entrepreneurial model, that is both competitive
    and sustainable. Such changes in the policy
    context and trading environment are promoting
    alterations in the role, attitudes, and business
    practices of farmers and attempting to reduce the
    distorting effects of agricultural subsidies upon
    their business aspirations and decisions. As
    commodity price support systems are reduced and
    as production subsidies decline or are
    redirected, farmers will increasingly need to
    adapt.
  • Many will find it difficult to compete purely on
    a cost basis and will need instead to focus their
    attentions on the identification and exploitation
    of opportunities for niche production and
    markets, means of adding value to their products,
    or enhanced systems of cooperation. Farmers are
    also being encouraged to diversify into
    alternative and nonfarming enterprises (PIU,
    1999). Shifting from a production to a more
    entrepreneurial model will require a greater
    emphasis on the personal capacities and
    entrepreneurial skills (1) of farmers with
    respect to commercialisation, promotion, and
    organisation (van Huylenbroeck and Durand, 2003).

19
Phillipson et al. (2004, 33)
  • 1) According to the UK paper Enterprise for All
    (SBS, 2001) an entrepreneurial approach is
    characterised by original thought, innovation,
    and risk taking. Such an approach has
    traditionally been less important to the farming
    sector as a consequence of protected markets and
    direct payments. With market liberalisation
    farmers are being encouraged to take on or seek
    out new economic opportunities which is placing
    greater emphasis on risk taking and market
    orientation and upon the development and
    application of (new) generic business skills.

20
Phillipson et al. (2004, 33)
  • In the United Kingdom, albeit with notable
    exceptions, many farmers have been characterised
    as lacking general business capabilities and as
    unwilling to adapt or develop new skills in light
    of changing demands, which is seen as part of a
    wider skills challenge within the agriculture and
    food sectors (DEFRA, 2002 Scottish Executive,
    2002) (2).For example, according to the
    Performance and Innovation Unit
  • The problem of less entrepreneurial behaviour
    among some farmers may be a legacy of the heavily
    interventionist frameworks that have dominated
    agriculture throughout the post-war period.
    Government has not encouraged farmers to see
    themselves as entrepreneurs.

21
Concluding the outline of Phillipson et al.
  • Entrepreneurship discourse in agricultural
    policy entrepreneurs as agents who survive in
    open markets by pursuing business opportunities
    farmers as actors lacking such agency -gt farmers
    should be developed into entrepreneurs (by the
    government)
  • Comp. Bryant (1989) Entrepreneurs in the rural
    environment. JRS 544

22
Are entrepreneurship discourses totally new and
alien to farmers and farming culture?
  • In addition to policy discourse, positive answer
    have been presented in some research discussions
  • Dudley (2003) The entrepreneurial self? Identity
    and morality in a Midwestern Farming Community.
    In Adams, J. (ed.) Fighting for the farm.
    University of Pensylvania press.

23
Reflecting Dudley
  • While reading Dudley, figure out for yourself
    answers to the following questions
  • What does Dudley (2003) mean by entrepreneurial
    self? What are the aspects and features of it? Is
    it the same as entrepreneurial spirit?
  • What is the relation between farmers in Star
    Prairie and entrepreneurial self
  • What is the relation between entrepreneurial self
    and the modern capitalistic market economy? How
    does entrepreneurial self connect to the
    restructuring of agriculture?

24
Dudley conclusion
  • Rather than two distinct categories of farmers
    (entrepreneur vs. yeoman) (p. 177-178),
    entrepreneurship suits for describing the
    commonly shared cultural basis of farming
    community.
  • E agent aims to be independent, produce
    efficiently, grow the farm (legitimated by
    over-generation continuity and a good-farmer
    eye), assumes personal responsibility for the
    economic risk (self as principal?)
  • Entrepreneurial self as a ground/foundation for
    self-regulative agency in farm ownership and
    management, but also for excessive risk-taking
  • Credit-based production/absentee ownership as
    threats (186)

25
Dudley conclusion
  • The rhetoric of risk reframes the danger of
    dispossession and capital penetration as an
    individual moral dilemma (186) (self as
    principal frame legitimating capital
    penetration?)
  • The rhetoric of risks limits the ability to
    conceptualise the social consequences of
    macro-economic forces that are beyond individual
    control (187) (exaggerating farmers agency)
  • the rhetoric of risk helds individual
    accountable for their losses, while state
    sponsors the penetration of capital (188)

26
D. Entrepreneur identity and entrepreneurial
agency among farmers
27
  • Methods
  • Subjects three main groups
  • 1) conventional farmers concentrating only on
    agricultural primary production (conventional
    farmers) (n271)
  • 2) farmers who also had non-agricultural
    business (diversified farmers) (n469)
  • 3) rural non-agricultural small-scale businesses
    (non-farm entrepreneurs) (n131). The sample of
    rural non-farm entrepreneurs was limited to
    small-scale enterprises with a maximum of 20
    personnel and sales of more than 100 000 .
  • A rural area was defined as having a population
    density of less than 50 inhabitants/square km
    within a certain zip code.

28
  • Data collection
  • Data was collected by postal questionnaire in
    year 2006. The questionnaire used in was a
    modified version of the earlier questionnaire
    (2001) with some of the original questions
    excluded and three new themes added.
  • The questionnaire used in 2001 consisted of 71
    questions or series of questions organized under
    the following headings background information
    about the respondent identity economic
    information about the firm/farm conceptions
    about being an entrepreneur principles related
    to entrepreneurship and customer relations. For
    diversity there were 12 additional questions
    related to agriculture.

29
Results
  • Self-Identification
  • Identity was measured by a question
  • How do you define yourself? How well do the
    following describe you
  • Im an Entrepreneur / Professional / Producer /
    Wage earner / Business manager?
  • Each category was evaluated by using a five-point
    Likert-type scale ranging from (1) not at all
    to (5) very well.
  • Because the variables were skewed, they were
    reclassified into three classes 1 not at all /
    somewhat / dont know 2 quite well and 3
    very well.
  • Each identity variable was adjusted by
    subtracting the combined value for all
    identity-variables from it.
  • A positive value for one identity category thus
    reflects that this category was evaluated as more
    self-descriptive when compared to other
    categories. And a negative value reflects that
    the category was seen as less self-descriptive
    than the other categories in general.

30
  • Measures for role expectations
  • (Scale 1 totally disagree 5 Totally agree)
  • Risk-taking
  • I am more cautious with risk-taking compared to
    other entrepreneurs that I know (neg)
  • I do not avoid taking risks
  • I take risks only when compelled to do so (neg)
  • I do not believe in success without risk-taking.
  • Growth-orientation
  • Increasing the turnover of my firm is a
    self-evident goal for me
  • Compared to other entrepreneurs whom I know, I am
    more reluctant in expanding my business (neg)
  • I prefer not to hire employees in my firm (neg)
  • I am trying to expand my business activities

31
  • Measures for role expectations
  • (Scale 1 totally disagree 5 Totally agree)
  • Risk-taking
  • I am more cautious with risk-taking compared to
    other entrepreneurs that I know (neg)
  • I do not avoid taking risks
  • I take risks only when compelled to do so (neg)
  • I do not believe in success without risk-taking.
  • Growth-orientation
  • Increasing the turnover of my firm is a
    self-evident goal for me
  • Compared to other entrepreneurs whom I know, I am
    more reluctant in expanding my business (neg)
  • I prefer not to hire employees in my firm (neg)
  • I am trying to expand my business activities

32
  • Innovativeness
  • I aim for constant renewal in my business
    activities
  • I enjoy developing new products and marketing
    ideas
  • If needed, I will make major changes in my
    business
  • I prefer to keep doing things the way I am
    familiar with (neg)
  • Self-efficacy
  • My skills are quite sufficient for working as an
    entrepreneur
  • I am more competent than an average entrepreneur
  • My character is not of entrepreneurial type (neg)
  • My personal characteristics suit well for
    entrepreneurship
  • I will succeed as an entrepreneur
  • Not even major setbacks can make me give up my
    entrepreneurship
  • I believe that my success in the future will
    outrun entrepreneurs on average
  • My success as an entrepreneur is uncertain (neg)

33
  • Personal control
  • I am able to affect the success of my firm
    through decisions concerning products and through
    production
  • My personal changes to influence the
    successfulness of my businesses are practically
    rather low (neg)
  • I am able to affect the success of my firm
    through marketing and customer connections
  • To a great extent I can personally control the
    success of my firm

34
Vesala, H. Vesala K.M. (2010) Entrepreneurs and
Producers Identities of Finnish Farmers in 2001
and 2006. Journal of Rural Studies 26 (1), 21-30.
Table 1 Means of identity variables (data 2006)
pgt.001. plt.01. plt.05
Conventional farmers (n 249) Diversified farmers (n 381) Non-farm entrepreneurs (n 125) plt
Entrepre neur .34 .64 .75
Professional .09 .14 .30
Producer .68 .35 -.31
Wage-earner -.70 -.72 -.51
Business manager -.41 -.41 -.22
35
Entrepreneur identity
F28.3, plt.001 Pairwise comparison Conventional
farmers weaker than other groups, no significant
difference between the other two groups.
36
Correlations between entrepreneurial
role-expectations
  Risk- Taking Innovati- veness Growth- orientation Conserva tiveness Self- Efficacy
Innovativeness .460        
Growth- Orientation .273 .425      
Conservativeness -.557 -.408 -.429    
Self-Efficacy .326 .331 .388 -.374  
Personal Control .139 .442 .276 -.358 .556
) plt.05 ) plt.01 ) plt.001
37
Correlations between entrepreneurial identity and
role-expectations
Entrepreneurial identity
Risk-taking .197
Innovativeness .262
Growth- Orientation .260
Conservativeness -.351
Self-Efficacy .428
Personal Control .400
) plt.05 ) plt.01 ) plt.001
38
Entrepreneurial role-expectations in three groups
on Entrepreneur Identity (EI)
39
The means and standard deviations (sd in
parenthesis) of the role-expectation variables in
the main groups analysis on variance
  Conventional farmers (n233) Diversified farmers (n345) Non-farm entrepreneurs (n118) F (plt)
Risk-Taking -.03 (.83) .07 (.90) -.16 (.85) 3.4 ()
Innovativeness -.33 (.81) .20 (.73) .06 (.76) 35.1 ()
Growth- Orientation -.12 (.92) .13 (.84) -.14 (.93) 7.3 ()
Conservativeness .13 (.92) -.11 (.82) .07 (.81) 6.2 ()
Self-Efficacy -.27 (.89) .14 (.90) .13 (1.03) 14.8 ()
Personal Control -.49 (.98) .19 (.76) .42 (.67) 65.1 ()
40
Entrepreneurial expectations in three main groups
41
Relations of role-expectations to background
variables
Risk Inno Groth Conservat SE PC
Age
Gender
Education
Experience
Arable land
Turnover
Man-years
Number of clients
End user clients
Processor clients
Outside workforce
Outside work
Line of production
Line of business
42
E. Entrepreneurial skills and the adoption of
entrepreneurship discourse?
43
Pyysiäinen, Halpin Vesala (2010, in press)
Entrepreneurial Skills among Farmers
Approaching a Policy Issue.
  • Developing the entrepreneurial skills of farmers
    (ESoF-project)
  • The discourse of entrepreneurial skills in the
    construction of entrepreneurial self (and agency)
    by farmers?
  • Self-presentations regarding entrepreneurial
    skills (recognising and realising business
    opportunities networking and utilising contacts
    creating and evaluating business strategy)

44
Figure 1 Aspects of the self (derived from
Baumeister 1999)
45
Aspects of self
  • The reflexive aspect deals with self-awareness
    the process in which individual views,
    identifies, defines, or understands herself (I
    looking at me see G.H. Mead 1934). This is
    most typically done in terms of group memberships
    and social roles.The relational aspect refers to
    self as an interpersonal being whose existence
    and action are fundamentally rooted and embedded
    in social relations. The third, executive aspect
    deals with the issue of agency. An individual
    evaluates things, makes decisions, and acts in
    order to regulate and develop her self as well as
    to control and influence her situation and events
    that are of importance to her. Agency implies
    self-reflection (Emirbayer and Mische 1998), but
    it is also closely tied with the relational
    aspect. Exercising control in social relations
    includes influencing others and the ability to
    utilize others as resources or vehicles for ones
    own agency.
  • In the case of entrepreneurship, a strong
    emphasis is often put on the agency aspect of
    self an entrepreneur is culturally defined as
    somebody who is active, persistent, and
    innovative (makes things happen in economic and
    social transactions). Thus, the executive aspect
    deserves special attention in the study of the
    entrepreneurial self. Entrepreneurial skill is
    one of the concepts which allow us to do this.

46
Case A Entrepreneurship Inadequate Lacking
Agency
  • The interviewee is a 69 -year old pig farmer, who
    operates the business together with his wife. The
    farm has about 70 sow pigs and 40 hectares of
    field. The farmer started his farming career in
    1966, and expanded production in mid-1990s. 
  • Skill of creating and evaluating a strategy The
    farmer claims that the skill could be useful in
    principle, but in his case the operational
    environment and overpowering actors (vertical
    production chain, financers) have frustrated the
    plans he has tried to pursue. The progress of
    farming is presented as a victim of unpredictable
    changes and uncertainties associated especially
    with the dramatic decreases in producer prices
    after Finnish EU membership since then, the
    farmer claims, things have not been manageable
    with planning or foresight.

47
Case A Entrepreneurship Inadequate Lacking
Agency
  • Skill of networking and utilizing contacts The
    farmer starts Well, it has been tried out for
    sure, but goes on to explain that things like
    contacting the farmers union will not change a
    thing and that a farmer has no means to control
    his situation since the big players in the market
    such as central franchising groups are too
    strong. He claims that in such a situation
    networking will not work nor bring any commercial
    or cost benefits. He presents himself as having
    tried these things but also as having recognized
    their uselessness.
  •  

48
Case A Entrepreneurship Inadequate Lacking
Agency
  • Skill of recognizing and realizing opportunities
    The farmer does not present a direct
    self-assessment concerning how good he is in
    recognizing and realizing opportunities, but
    assesses anyway that their farm has recognized an
    opportunity in pork production, since pigs yield
    much pork. However, he is not able to tell any
    examples of opportunity recognition or
    realization after the dramatic decrease in pork
    prices. Consequently he states that it is
    difficult to utilize these skills in his
    situation, even though they would be useful.

49
Case A Entrepreneurship Inadequate Lacking
Agency
  • Summing up the case, the farmer does not present
    himself as skillful in terms of any of the
    skills. Instead, he consistently claims that each
    of the skills is useless or impossible to utilize
    in his situation. The self that is presented is
    more a victim of circumstances than an active
    agent. The self that he presents is defined in
    terms of a traditional production-oriented world
    and its characteristic activities as such it
    remains in the shadow of vertical chains and
    their big players. Even though the farmer does
    not oppose entrepreneurship discourse, as such,
    he nevertheless rejects it as inadequate to his
    situation.

50
Case B Fluency in Entrepreneurship
Demonstrating Agency
  • The interviewed couple runs a farm that focuses
    on the production of strawberries, other berries
    and their processing. Both wife (age 44) and
    husband (age 43) are involved in the interview.
    They started their farm in 1996. They currently
    employ around 20 seasonal employees for several
    months of the year, mostly to assist in picking
    berries.

51
Case B Fluency in Entrepreneurship
Demonstrating Agency
  • Skill of creating and evaluating a strategy Even
    though they start by doubting if they really have
    strategic planning skills, they nevertheless
    present themselves as thinking about and
    discussing such things frequently. They present
    the development of their farm business and
    expansion of production as based on strategic
    thinking that includes product modification and
    development. They present themselves as
    orientated to customer needs and feedback, which
    can be utilized in the development of new
    products and attraction of new, or better,
    customers. The presentation gives the impression
    that their strategy is also a successful one,
    because they mention having more demand for
    products than they can currently provide.

52
Case B Fluency in Entrepreneurship
Demonstrating Agency
  • Skill of networking and utilizing contacts The
    initial direct self-assessment of the farmers is
    a hesitant one. However, the indirect assessments
    and accounts of their activities all point
    towards a self-presentation of being pretty good
    in utilizing networks and contacts. They have
    cooperation and joint acquisitions with other
    entrepreneurs and they have participated in
    courses and projects where they have learned to
    know the local entrepreneurs and network with
    them. In addition, they relay examples of using
    skills in the context of sales promotion and
    marketing, where their good contacts to matrons
    of industrial kitchens have helped them to
    increase sales and broaden the variety of
    products. They have also utilized local market
    research services to identify potential demand
    and markets for their products. Even though they
    present themselves as entrepreneurs who do not
    like to promote themselves in every social
    occasion and rather focus on doing things
    themselves, their presentation suggests that they
    utilize these skills in diverse situations and
    contexts.

53
Case B Fluency in Entrepreneurship
Demonstrating Agency
  • Skill of recognizing and realizing opportunities
    The couple considers this skill as very important
    for their situation, and they also claim having
    had some success in recognizing and realizing
    opportunities that suit them. They substantiate
    their claim by explaining how they recognized and
    found a proper market niche for them principally
    by not competing with the big players but having
    a variety of own processed products besides
    primary production. Another rhetorical resource
    in the demonstration of the skill is their
    customer and product structure, both of which are
    open to changes depending on the demand of the
    products a feature they view as highlighting
    the importance of opportunity recognition and
    realization skills. They also present themselves
    as not being afraid of the uncertainty related to
    a turbulent environment but being comfortable and
    even excited about it. The farmers seem to have
    plenty of rhetorical resources to give a
    convincing impression of mastering and utilizing
    these skills.

54
Case B Fluency in Entrepreneurship
Demonstrating Agency
  • Summing up the case, the farmers are fluent in
    using entrepreneurship discourse. They construct
    themselves as having the skills, as the selves
    are presented in terms of skill manifestations in
    a diversity of contexts, such as production,
    marketing and customer relationships, and
    utilization of development projects and business
    services. The skills are evident in enabling the
    farmers to renew and change the emphasis of their
    farm business (e.g. products and customer
    relationships) according to the demands and
    opportunities encountered in the operational
    environment. The strategy selected is thus
    presented as an effective means to deal with, and
    control the business in, a dynamic environment.

55
 Case C Negotiating Entrepreneurship Relating
to Farming Community
  • The interviewed farmers are cousins, both male,
    aged 30 and 40, who own a farm consortium, which
    produces crops (c. 180 ha). The older farmer
    started the farming in 1992 and younger one
    joined in 2005.

56
 Case C Negotiating Entrepreneurship Relating
to Farming Community
  • Skill of creating and evaluating a strategy The
    farmers do not directly comment on whether they
    have a business strategy, but their subsequent
    descriptions function to present their actions as
    based on strategic planning. For instance, they
    aim to maintain their income level by taking
    pre-emptive actions to reduce costs. They
    demonstrate this principle by explaining how they
    have calculated the most profitable options in
    their machine investments, and on the basis of
    the calculations ended up buying a joint
    harvester-thresher together with a farmer from
    the neighborhood. They also mention having
    committed themselves to the cooperation with the
    neighbor. As an additional rhetorical resource,
    they give an account of the principle of
    strategic planning in their situation one should
    be committed to the selected strategy on a longer
    range and also evaluate its pros and cons in the
    longer run.

57
 Case C Negotiating Entrepreneurship Relating
to Farming Community
  • Skill of networking and utilizing contacts The
    farmers do not clearly present themselves as
    either having or lacking the skills. However,
    they give indirect accounts of themselves as
    having the skills, when they again describe their
    close production cooperation with the neighbor
    farm. They explain that the cooperative
    relationships both within the consortium and
    with the neighbor function as a kind of
    insurance for them now that there are three
    farmers capable of taking care of the most
    important tasks, all three are better off in case
    of unexpected events and accidents. Furthermore,
    they explain that their networking skills are
    used to pursue clearly articulated financial
    purposes they aim at cutting down production
    costs.

58
 Case C Negotiating Entrepreneurship Relating
to Farming Community
  • Skill of recognizing and realizing opportunities
    The farmers do not explicitly present themselves
    as either having or lacking the skills, but they
    tell that the current mode of farming is the
    result of careful thinking and joint discussions,
    where they have reflected on the possible
    directions of their farm business. For instance,
    before making the decision about the joint
    machine investment they analyzed the situations
    of other farms in the region and the future
    availability of farmland since possibilities to
    purchase extra farmland did not seem likely, they
    opted to intensify their cooperation with the
    neighbor farm as a means to secure effectiveness.
    In their explanation they state that they analyze
    what the realization of other business
    opportunities would require, but they view the
    opportunities from the perspectives of the
    farming community and safety. Above all, they do
    not want to step on the toes of other farmers
    and their businesses but want to maintain good
    relationships within the community where they
    have lived their whole lives. They claim that
    their primary production and forestry activities
    still provide them sufficient standard of
    livelihood and thats why they do not view it
    necessary to try out any riskier options.

59
Case C Negotiating Entrepreneurship Relating to
Farming Community
  • Summing up the case, the farmers do use the
    entrepreneurship discourse, but its usage is
    characterized by efforts to reconcile it together
    with relational preconditions of the farming
    community. The self that is presented becomes
    defined in terms of activities and relationships
    related to primary production on the one hand,
    the social relations are presented as enabling
    the management of the selected course, but on the
    other hand they are presented as restricting the
    range of trajectories that they consider
    desirable, such as willingness to engage in
    non-farm business activities. Nevertheless, the
    chosen orientation, which combines cost-reduction
    and anticipative action orientations, is
    presented as providing them their means of
    business control vis-á-vis the operation
    environment.

60
Concluding Esof
  • cases B and C accepted the entrepreneurial skill
    discourse as relevant to themselves, even though
    they both reconciled it to their distinctive
    action situations in different ways. Case A, in
    turn, found the entrepreneurial skills to be
    inappropriate to presenting his situation but
    even he did not reject the discourse as such,
    only its applicability for him. Indeed, the
    analysis revealed that in their self-assessments
    the farmers did not just passively accept or
    ingest the entrepreneurship discourse, but they
    actively used and reconciled it in the
    construction of their self-presentations. None of
    them simply rejected the entrepreneurship
    discourse nor claimed outright to be especially
    skilful instead, they were active and creative
    in connecting the discourse to their own
    life-worlds and particular everyday experiences,
    which, as rhetorical resources, provided them
    different alternatives to substantiate the
    discourse.

61
Concluding Esof
  • most of the farmers who were interviewed in the
    Esof project were favorable towards using the
    discourse of entrepreneurial skills. One might
    wonder whether this outcome had something to do
    with the procedure of selecting the interviewees,
    in which the potential interviewees were
    approached through middle men who knew that the
    study focused on entrepreneurship. A more
    reliable source upon which to base
    generalizations is provided by Vesala (2008), who
    reports results from a nationwide postal survey
    among farmers (n 625) and non-farm rural small
    business owners (n 126) in Finland. These
    results suggest that over two-thirds of farmers
    consider entrepreneurial skills as fairly or very
    important for themselves, whereas one in ten
    views these skills only somewhat or not at all
    important.

62
Concluding Esof
  • It is apparent from our interview material that
    production related rhetorical resources did not
    enable the interviewees to make very rich and
    convincing presentations of their skills
    instead, when convincing presentations of
    entrepreneurial skills were made, they were
    typically constructed with rhetorical resources
    associated with product development and
    differentiation, marketing and sales arena and
    customer and cooperation relationships. Comparing
    our three cases along such a dimension, we notice
    that cases A and B resemble almost polar
    opposites in this respect. It thus seems that how
    the skills can be digested and presented is at
    least to some extent determined by the immediate
    situation and characteristics of the action
    context, notably the nature of the business and
    business networks.

63
Concluding Esof
  • As indicated in the case descriptions, a key
    difference in the self-constructions between
    these cases concerns the nature of agency. In the
    self-presentation of case B the entrepreneurial
    skills were connected to activities and instances
    that enabled the self to deal with, and control
    the business in spite of, uncertainties and
    changes in a dynamic environment. The self was
    constructed as an active agent, which, by means
    of the entrepreneurial skills, is able to effect
    change and exert control in the business
    environment. In case A, a contrary picture was
    painted as entrepreneurial skills were presented
    as inadequate the uncertainties and changes of
    an overpowering business environment were
    presented as dispossessing the self of its
    agentic aspects. The entrepreneurial skill
    discourse did not provide the farmer any viable
    resources to demonstrate his agency.
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