The strategic farmer: A cheese producer with cold feet?

Gerard McElwee, Alistair Anderson, Kari Vesala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this article is to explore the strategy of an enterprising farmer. The background problematic is that in Europe, agriculture has faced dramatic pressures for restructuring, and facilitation of the strategic skills of farmers and a stronger entrepreneurial orientation have been suggested as a possible solution for the emerging problems. We use an illustrative case to show how strategy formation and implementation may require different skills, competencies and attitudes. Design, methodology and approach - A case study is used to examine the issues of strategy formation and implementation. Whilst the findings from the case may not be generalisable, our analysis provides an opportunity to conceptually reflect on the issues. These issues may have wider implications beyond the research site. Findings - The theoretical and case study analyses reveal that the concept of entrepreneurial strategy is ambiguous. Yet, if proper care is taken to distinguish the concept from, and relate it to, the elements in which it is embedded, the notion is a useful tool for both theory and empirical investigation. By applying such a procedure, we show that the contexts of conventional farming and business diversification call for an understanding about the clearly different entrepreneurial skills and appropriate strategies and strategic implementation. Practical implications - This research suggests that a major challenge for the agricultural sector is to enable farmers to develop their strategic, marketing and entrepreneurial skills. This requires economic support and greater emphasis on education and training. It is hoped that this research will assist in this challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Business Strategy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


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