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Edited by Gry Agnete Alsos, Sara Carter, Elisabet Ljunggren and Friederike Welter
Chapter 7: Entrepreneurial Skills Among Farmers: Approaching a Policy Discourse
7 Entrepreneurial skills among farmers: approaching a policy discourse Jarkko Pyysiäinen, Darren Halpin and Kari Mikko Vesala If the core of agricultural policy in the immediate post-war period was about technological modernization, then the past decades have been preoccupied with ‘modernizing’ the orientation of farmers themselves. One of the approaches has been to develop initiatives to encourage the development and acquisition of entrepreneurial skills by those individuals engaged in agricultural production, that is, by individual farmers. This chapter explores and elaborates on the notion of entrepreneurial skills to unpack the policy discourses surrounding farm entrepreneurship, on the one hand, and the significance of entrepreneurship for farmers and their activities, on the other. The term ‘entrepreneurial skills’ reminds us not simply to conceive of entrepreneurship as some broad, uniform or hegemonic discourse, but it also directs attention to the ways in which skillful entrepreneurial activity may be demonstrated via the concrete tasks that are characteristics of a farm context. In this vein we argue that entrepreneurial skills can be conceived of as a set of meta-skills, which can be connected with political and cultural entrepreneurship discourses as well as with the reality of farmers’ tasks and everyday activities. To demonstrate this approach, first we outline a methodology by which it is possible to detect the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills through self-presentations. Second, we utilize a fieldwork from an EU-funded project (ESOF) to demonstrate the ways that individual farmers may connect themselves to – or remain disconnected from – entrepreneurship and the related...
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