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A theoretical perspective on agribusiness and ethics in a South African context


  • Kirsten, Johann F.


In my presidential address in 2002 I made the point that there is a growing need to make some adaptations to the neo-classical foundations of agricultural economics if we as agricultural economists want to become useful in making a contribution to the empowerment process in agriculture. I expressed the need for much more interaction and engagement with other disciplines in the social sciences if we want to play a significant role in addressing the real challenges facing agriculture in South Africa. Some new values and understanding of the principles of humanity and dignity is urgently needed. The theme of this conference provides an ideal opportunity to take this argument and the case I made for cross-disciplinarity a bit further. Last year I argued that agricultural economists need to utilise the strengths of sociology, anthropology and political analysis in order to be better equipped to tackle the challenge of black empowerment in South African agriculture. This year I will show how we need these disciplines and also philosophy if we want to address ‘ethics’ in business. The point that was made throughout my earlier paper is that economic theory sacrifices far too much relevance in its pursuit of ever-greater rigour. Given the challenges facing the agricultural sector in Africa, we need to see much stronger efforts to integrate the building of theory in economics with the study of reality.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirsten, Johann F., 2003. "A theoretical perspective on agribusiness and ethics in a South African context," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 42(4), December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:agreko:9499

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kirsten, J, 2002. "Forty Years Of Agricultural Economics Scholarship And Practice In South Africa: A Time To Challenge The Consensus And Refocus Our Intellectual Work," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 41(4), December.
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    1. Sefoko, Ngwako & van Rooyen, Johan & D’Haese, Luc & D’Haese, Marijke, 2010. "Good governance and social responsibility in the South African wine industry," Problems of World Agriculture / Problemy Rolnictwa Åšwiatowego, WydziaÅ‚ Nauk Ekonomicznych, Uniwersytet Warszawski, vol. 10(25).

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