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Understanding, and Improving, Managerial Ability in Farmers

Contributed by Peter Nuthall, Department of Land management and systems, Lincoln University, NZ

Work continues round the world on understanding the origins of farmers’ managerial ability and how it might be improved … with the inherent and critical intuitive skills included.

I often think of the initials SNR –   ‘skill not resources’. Improving managerial ability can lead to untold increases in achievements including profit at very little cost other than the appropriate training. Efficiency studies often show significant variation between individual farmers’ achievements. The differences are potentially available for the taking given successful training and introspection.

Listed below are research articles recently discovered which relate to managerial ability both in terms of discovering the important variables involved and issues over learning, or improving, managerial ability.

A problem in all this work is measuring achievement. We all know only too well that profit is only one objective with few farmers focusing solely on maximising this measureable output. What we need is a more encompassing measure that isn’t simply just ‘utility’.  Any ideas?

Book New edition:
A second edition of ‘Farm business management – the human factor’, published by CABI, is about to arrive in on-line book shops. It contains two new chapters – one on intuition, and the other on the human factors impacting a range of issues from farm ownership through to farmer anxiety. The publishers are offering a 20% discount if purchased by 31 January 2019 by quoting the code CCAB20 through OR (UK, Europe, & ROW) OR (North and South America).

Another book of interest is ‘The intuitive farmer – inspiring management success’ being the story of a bunch of farmers working together to improve their intuitive decision making. It is available from most on-line book sellers and covers most decision issues faced by managers.

Please pass this message onto any of your colleagues who might be interested in all factors associated with managerial ability and the psychology of decision making.

Peter Nuthall.

Examples of the continuing management study work includes…

  • Impact of farmer attributes and objectives on profit … O’Leary N., Bennett R., Tranter R., Jones P. (2018) The extent that certain dairy farmer attitudes and behaviors are associated with farm business profitability. Journal of Dairy Science 101:1-10.
  • Features of successful ‘agriprenenurs’ … Balaganoormath L., Chillarge S., Kadian K. (2017) A comparative analysis of the managerial abilities of successful and unsuccessful agripreneurs running dairy enterprise in Karnataka, India. Journal of Entrepreneurship and Management 6:46-50.
  • Cost efficiency and managerial ability … Dziwornu R. (2016) Does managerial ability really drive cost efficiency? Evidence from broiler businesses. Managerial and Decision Economics 38(6):731-740.
  • History of intuition research …  Akinci C., Sadler-Smith E. (2012) Intuition in management research: a historical review. International Journal of Management Reviews. 14:104-122.
  • Looking ahead to possible intuition research issues … Baldacchino L., Ucbasaran D., Cabantous L., Lockett A. (2015) Entrepreneurship research on intuition: a critical analysis and research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews 17:212-231.
  • Managerial skills training …  Paglis L. (2012) A review of managerial skills training in the classroom. Journal of Management Education 37(4):472-498 (formal training is one approach to improvement).
  • Changing personality factors associated with good management … Proudfoot J., Corr P., Guest D., Dunn G. (2009) Cognitive-behavioural training to change attributional style improves employee well- being, job satisfaction, productivity, turnover. Personality and Individual Differences 46:147-153.
  • Learning skills from errors … Zhao B. (2011) Learning from errors: the role of context, emotion, and personality. Journal of Organizational Behavior 32:435-463.
  • Learning skills ‘on the job’ (said to cover 70-90% of learning) …  Cerasoli C., Alliger G., Donsback J., Mathieu J., Tannenbaum S., Orvis K. (2018) Antecedents and outcomes of informal learning behaviors: a meta analysis. Journal of Business Psychology 33:203-230.
  • Zest, personality, and learning ‘on the job’ … Noe R., Tews M., Marand A. (2013) Individual differences and informal learning in the workplace. Journal of Vocational Behavior 83:327-335.