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 2: The Development of New Ventures in Farm Businesses

Richard Ferguson and Christer Olofsson


Richard Ferguson and Christer Olofsson This chapter is based on a study of six farm businesses that have started new income-generating activities. Focus is on the process of new venture creation and early development, where the entrepreneurial context is strongly defined by pre-existing businesses, with their resources and rural settings. The studied new ventures were typically “pushed” into initiation by some dissatisfaction with the status quo. Yet, the cases also show a dynamic capability in the exploitation of existing resources, where farmers recognize market opportunity that can be realized with the redirection of existing resources. The ventures have been started on a very small scale, minimizing risks to the pre-existing business. The venture concept is thus tested and, in a learning process, refined and developed, eventually into a significant income generator. The social context is also found to be important in finding solutions to development challenges, as well as for maintaining enthusiasm and commitment during the development process. While the heterogeneity of the studied cases is evident, there is a clear pattern of “cautious entrepreneurship”. The new activities are based largely on firms’ existing resources and capacity, and risks associated with the new ventures are kept to a minimum until market demand is proven. This cautious approach acts as an insurance to keep control of the farm enterprise and its resources. While it has almost certainly slowed the realization of the market potential of the new ventures, it has also facilitated a learning process to help the ventures develop in...

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