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Treating Farms as Firms? the Evolution of Farm Business Support from Productionist to Entrepreneurial Models


  • Jeremy Phillipson
  • Matthew Gorton
  • Marian Raley
  • Andrew Moxey


Farming enterprises throughout the European Union have traditionally been treated very differently by the state compared with their nonagricultural counterparts. Agricultural activities have been governed by a separate set of policy objectives, political institutions, and support agencies. However, this agricultural ‘exceptionalism’ is being steadily eroded as markets are partially liberalised, farmers are encouraged to pursue new forms of economic activity, and as government institutions are reformed. Farmers are being encouraged to see themselves as ‘entrepreneurs' to face fundamentally changed markets. There is, therefore, renewed attention to the existing levels of generic business skills within the farming sector and to the nature and effectiveness of business advice and support frameworks in enhancing these skills. The paper investigates the extent to which farmers have experienced different patterns of business support use and perceive themselves as having different generic skills needs in comparison with other rural microbusinesses and considers the attractiveness of different models of delivering business advice to the sector. A review is undertaken of the evolution of rural business support in England together with an analysis of data from a survey of almost 1800 rural microbusinesses in the northeast of England. It is concluded that there are a number of significant challenges facing the adjustment of the farm sector towards a more entrepreneurial model of business development arising from the sector's legacy of separation and exceptionalism within the support framework. In order to help encourage the development of generic business skills an ‘intermediary’ model of business advice is advocated, in which an intermediary agency acts as a bridge between farms and generic business support providers.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Phillipson & Matthew Gorton & Marian Raley & Andrew Moxey, 2004. "Treating Farms as Firms? the Evolution of Farm Business Support from Productionist to Entrepreneurial Models," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 22(1), pages 31-54, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirc:v:22:y:2004:i:1:p:31-54

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    Cited by:

    1. Vasile Alecsandru Strat & Adriana AnaMaria Davidescu & Raluca Mariana Grosu & Ion-Daniel Zgura, 2016. "Regional Development Fueled by Entrepreneurial Ventures Providing KIBS – Case Study on Romania," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 18(41), pages 1-55, February.
    2. Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees, 2008. "Institutionalizing end-user demand steering in agricultural R&D: Farmer levy funding of R&D in The Netherlands," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 460-472, April.
    3. Kilelu, Catherine W. & Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees & Hall, Andy, 2011. "Beyond knowledge brokerage: An exploratory study of innovation intermediaries in an evolving smallholder agricultural system in Kenya," MERIT Working Papers 022, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees, 2008. "Matching demand and supply in the agricultural knowledge infrastructure: Experiences with innovation intermediaries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 260-276, June.

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