The Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Rural Development
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The Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Rural Development

Edited by Gry Agnete Alsos, Sara Carter, Elisabet Ljunggren and Friederike Welter

The agriculture sector around the world has experienced profound changes in recent years. This unique and path-breaking Handbook draws together the best current research in the area of entrepreneurship in agriculture, food production and rural development.
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Chapter 4: The Family Farm as a Premise for Entrepreneurship

Anne Moxnes Jervell


Anne Moxnes Jervell Entrepreneurial activity on the family farm may be a profitable response to market and policy changes, but can also challenge farm family values and traditions. This chapter discusses how the family farm as a premise facilitates and influences the entrepreneurial process. The discussion is structured around family farms passed on through several generations, and where a new venture has become the most important source of family income for today’s owners. A review of theory and empirical studies of relevance for the possibilities and limitations of entrepreneurship in agriculture is followed by two case studies. These are both based in Norway, but illustrate universal principles of overlap between family, farm and new venture. It is suggested that a family business perspective can enrich research on entrepreneurship in agriculture, while studies of entrepreneurship in agriculture can bring new insights to family business research. INTRODUCTION Farms are primarily family businesses. They are owned by families, transferred through familial lineages, managed by families and worked by family members. Farms are also family dwellings. More than perhaps any other type of economic activity, farming takes place in a family context (Gasson and Errington 1993; Jervell 2002). Farms have land as an important premise. Land is localized and there is a naturally large variation in productivity. Many holdings are of little commercial value in agriculture, but are still valuable to families that have lived there over several generations. While farming takes place in a family context, most farm families are dependent on income...

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