Strategic entrepreneurship: a new frontier for small farm competitiveness

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This research explores the extent to which strategic behaviours in the small farm sector can be thought of as entrepreneurial, a sector where the environmental characteristics and individual attributes do not at first seem to accord with the entrepreneurial aspects highlighted from findings from prior research. The entrepreneurship discourse may be enriched from this empirical examination that broadens the scope of entrepreneurship to atypical business environments whilst uniquely incorporating a customer perspective in its examination.
This research followed a two stage methodological process. First, 20 in-depth interviews were undertaken with customers at farm shops and farmer’s markets. We then purposively sampled our farm business to ensure the selected farm business directly provided these benefits to customers either through a farm shop or a farmers market. From this sample frame, we recruited eighteen small farm businesses which were stratified to broadly represent the sector. This stratification yielded four small farm categories i.e. crop, livestock, dairy and poultry.
Our findings identified eleven strategic resources within the Scottish small farm sector of which four presented potentials for opportunity creation in all the farm categories. This research unearths opportunities within food production that may stall, or even reverse, the non-food diversification trend currently prevalent within the small farm sector. Our examination highlights the strategic entrepreneurial potentials of small farm businesses in creating opportunities that can be exploited to improve their performance. This creative process involves the endogenous development of business resources and capabilities that are strategically exploited to create opportunities. A key contribution of this research is the deployment of both firm-based and customer-based perspectives for resource deployment and value creation.
Implications for Practice
The implication of these findings for Scottish small farm businesses is that it highlights those business activities they can effectively combine to develop strategic resources that create opportunities that may improve competitiveness. Additionally, they also benefit from the proposed entrepreneurial approach which is particularly suited to their unique business environment and context.
Implications for Policy Relevant government agencies and policymakers may also consult the finding of this research to encourage farming activities that promote food production to, hopefully, stall the possible threat to food security that is based on non-food diversification.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019
EventInstitute for Small Business and Enterpreneurship Conference (ISBE 2019): SPACE – Exploring New Frontiers and Entrepreneurial Places - Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Nov 201915 Nov 2019


ConferenceInstitute for Small Business and Enterpreneurship Conference (ISBE 2019)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • small farm sector
  • diversification
  • entrepreneurship
  • strategic resources


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