Developing the entrepreneurial skills of farmers: some myths explored.
Anderson, Alistair R.
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Purpose – Entrepreneurship is currently at the focus of much theoretical, practical and political interest. In Europe, agriculture has faced dramatic pressures for restructuring, and facilitation of the entrepreneurial skills of farmers and stronger entrepreneurial orientation in the rural areas have been hailed as possible solutions for the emerging problems. The aim of this paper is to use this nexus of agriculture and entrepreneurship as an illustrative example, through which the nature of entrepreneurial skills and the elements underpinning their adoption can be examined. Design/methodology/approach – The task is carried out by reflecting theoretically on the concept of entrepreneurial skills and on their embedded nature, before demonstrating the usefulness of the concept as a tool in understanding the case of an enterprising Finnish farmer, active both in conventional farming and in diversified business. Findings – The theoretical and case study analyses reveal that the concept of entrepreneurial skills is far from an unambiguous one, as well as is the aim to develop them through teaching. If proper care is taken to distinguish the concept from, and relate it to, the elements in which it is embedded, the notion is a useful tool for empirical investigation. By applying such a procedure, it is shown that the contexts of conventional farming and business diversification call for clearly different entrepreneurial skills, some of which are more amenable to teaching than others. Originality/value – This paper shows how one can develop a fuller understanding of the skills that farmers need to become entrepreneurial by diversification.