Constructing and negotiating entrepreneurial agency: A social psychological approach to entrepreneurship discourse in the farm context

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaArtikkelikokoelma


Entrepreneurship, understood as the autonomous, effective pursuit of opportunities regardless of resources, is currently subject to a multitude of interests, expectations, and facilitation efforts. On the one hand, such entrepreneurial agency has broad appeal to individuals in Western market democracies and resonates with their longing for an autonomous, personally tailored, meaningful, and materially rewarding way of life. On the other hand, entrepreneurship represents a tempting and increasingly popular means of governance and policy making, and thus a model for the re-organization of a variety of societal sectors. This study focuses on the diffusion and reception of entrepreneurship discourse in the context of farming and agriculture, where pressures to adopt entrepreneurial orientations have been increasingly pronounced while, on the other hand, the context of farming has historically enjoyed state protection and adhered to principles that seem at odds with aspects of individualistic entrepreneurship discourse . The study presents an interpretation of the psychologically and politically appealing uses of the notion of entrepreneurial agency , reviews the historical and political background of the current situation of farming and agriculture with regard to entrepreneurship, and examines their relationships in four empirical studies.

The study follows and develops a social psychological, situated relational approach that guides the qualitative analyses and interpretations of the empirical studies. Interviews with agents from the farm sector aim to stimulate evaluative responses and comments on the idea of entrepreneurship on farms. Analysis of the interview talk, in turn, detects the variety of evaluative responses and argumentative contexts with which the interviewees relate themselves to the entrepreneurship discourse and adopt, use, resist, or reject it.

The study shows that despite the pressures towards entrepreneurialism, the diffusion of entrepreneurship discourse and the construction of entrepreneurial agency in farm context encounter many obstacles. These obstacles can be variably related to aspects dealing with the individual agent, the action situation, the characteristics of the action itself, or to the broader social, institutional and cultural context. Many aspects of entrepreneurial agency, such as autonomy, personal initiative and achievement orientation, are nevertheless familiar to farmers and are eagerly related to one s own farming activities. The idea of entrepreneurship is thus rarely rejected outright. The findings highlight the relational and situational preconditions for the construction of entrepreneurial agency in the farm context: When agents demonstrate entrepreneurial agency, they do so by drawing on available and accessed relational resources characteristic of their action context. Likewise, when agents fail or are reluctant to demonstrate entrepreneurial agency, they nevertheless actively account for their situation and demonstrate personal agency by drawing on the relational resources available to them.
Painoksen ISBN978-952-10-6704-4
Sähköinen ISBN978-952-10-6705-1
TilaJulkaistu - 2011
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Tohtorinväitöskirja (artikkeli)


  • 5144 Sosiaalipsykologia

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