IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Expanding the Frontiers of Agricultural Economics to Meet the Future Challenges of Agricultural Development


  • Kirsten, Johann F.


In this paper I challenge the theoretical building blocks of agricultural economics and then provide some indication of how the discipline has rectified some of its shortcomings. The introduction of the New Institutional Economics into our discipline has been a major improvement. I have then argued that the challenges facing our profession are so huge that we need to think about further adaptation by making more use of other social sciences such as sociology and anthropology. This could help us understand the major complexities of dealing with the challenge of black economic empowerment in agriculture. This will however, also be necessary for us to adjust our research paradigm. This argument is well articulated by Doyer and Van Rooyen (2001) when they motivated a research method to study agribusiness supply chains. The challenges highlighted that for agricultural economic analysis to capture complex business reality and decisions to explain and predict the institutional and governance structures and optimal resource allocation behaviour of firms, approaches to research that combines positivist and constructivist are the most sensible. The combination of these approaches enables a holistic approach to the research problem. Positivism's strong explanatory and prediction capabilities are combined with the strong understanding and reconstructive capabilities of the constructivist approach. Throughout this process, qualitative and quantitative data can be used in combination. Since our research work also needs to focus more on structural and institutional issues it seems quite evident that we have to adopt a more eclectic research approach making much more use of case studies. The skills from the other social sciences will desperately be required here to advance our discipline into previously untreated terrain. This is necessary to make sure we make the important contribution to the task of building Africa's Agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirsten, Johann F., 2004. "Expanding the Frontiers of Agricultural Economics to Meet the Future Challenges of Agricultural Development," 2004 Inaugural Symposium, December 6-8, 2004, Nairobi, Kenya 9519, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaaeke:9519

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harriss, John, 2002. "The Case for Cross-Disciplinary Approaches in International Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 487-496, March.
    2. Kherallah, Mylene & Kirsten, Johann F, 2002. "The New Institutional Economics: Applications For Agricultural Policy Research In Developing Countries," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 41(2), June.
    3. Reardon, Thomas & Barrett, Christopher B., 2000. "Agroindustrialization, globalization, and international development An overview of issues, patterns, and determinants," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 23(3), September.
    4. Olson, Mancur & Kahkohnen, Satu (ed.), 2000. "A Not-so-dismal Science: A Broader View of Economies and Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198294900.
    5. Kherallah, Mylène & Kirsten, Johann, 2001. "The new institutional economics," MTID discussion papers 41, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Peterson, H. Christopher & Robison, Lindon J. & Siles, Marcelo E., 1999. "The Social Capital Foundations Of Trust In Global Agri-Food System Transactions," Staff Papers 11490, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    7. Dorward, Andrew & Kydd, Jonathan & Morrison, Jamie & Urey, Ian, 2004. "A Policy Agenda for Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 73-89, January.
    8. Bromley, Daniel W., 1990. "The ideology of efficiency: Searching for a theory of policy analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 86-107, July.
    9. Warren J. Samuels, 1989. "Determinate Solutions and Valuational Processes: Overcoming the Foreclosure of Process," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 531-546, July.
    10. Lodewijks, John, 2002. "Intersubjectivity in Economics: Agents and Structures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 539-543, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:aaaeke:9519. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.