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The split entrepreneurial identity of the farmer

Kari Mikko Vesala (Department of Social Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)
Juuso Peura (University of Helsinki, Institute for Rural Research and Training, Mikkeli, Finland)
Gerard McElwee (Lincoln Business School, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 27 February 2007



This research shows that entrepreneurship is currently at the focus of much theoretical, practical and political interest. In Europe, agriculture has faced increasing pressures for restructuring: facilitation of marketing and entrepreneurial skills of farmers and a stronger entrepreneurial orientation have been suggested as a possible solution for the emerging problems. The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of entrepreneurial capability of farmers to diversify. The central focus of this article is on the entrepreneurial identity of portfolio farmers in Finland and the extent to which the differences between portfolio farmers, other farmers, and non‐farm rural businesses can be explained.


The subjects of the study were rural small‐business owner‐managers and farmers in Finland. The authors carried out a survey of random samples from three populations, each representing a broad cross‐section of relevant industries, including a sample of non‐farm rural entrepreneurs (n=590) and portfolio farmers (n=2,200).


It emerges that portfolio farmers have a stronger entrepreneurial identity than conventional farmers. Compared to conventional farmers, the portfolio farmers in the sample perceive themselves as growth‐oriented, risk‐takers, innovative, optimistic and having more personal control upon their business activities.


This research suggests that a major challenge for the agricultural sector is to enable farmers to develop their entrepreneurial and marketing skills. This might require increased economic support and greater emphasis on vocational education and training.



Mikko Vesala, K., Peura, J. and McElwee, G. (2007), "The split entrepreneurial identity of the farmer", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 48-63.



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