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Title: Adjustments in land use in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, with particular reference to those in the agricultural sector
Author: Slee, R. W.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3417 1156
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1978
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This study was motivated by the desire to examine the economic dimension of controversies about the past and present use and future potential use of land in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland for agricultural purposes. This led to the need to review theories of economic efficiency in relation to land use and the derived approaches to land use adjustment. Section I considers extant conceptions of efficiency in economics, both at a level of Iindividual efficiency and at a level of social efficiency. It is suggested that different economic conceptions of efficiency are underlain by different sets of values. Conventional neoclassical approaches to efficiency are contrasted with behavioural approaches at the level of individual efficiency and with a conception of social efficiency derived from the work of Rawls. Section II focusses on the study of agricultural adjustment. Agricultural economists have frequently been guided in their analysis of agricultural adjustment by one economic paradigm. The "conventional wisdom" on agricultural economic adjustment is derived from this paradigm and is criticised on a number of empirical and theoretical grounds, both generally, and specifically in the context of the agricultural situation in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Section III reviews a number of major controversies about land use in the Highlands and Islands and identifies the economic dimension of these controversies. Controversies are considered to arise from two sources. In the first place, controversies have arisen because the economic behaviour of different groups in society has been motivated by different conceptions of efficiency which may lead to conflicts between groups over the desirability of land use changes. Secondly, controversies arise because of empirical difficulties of measurement of costs and benefits, despite agreement on what constitutes economic efficiency. Interest groups develop to advocate a particular conception of efficiency and/or a particular method of measurement. Historical and contemporary controversies relating to land use efficiency yield evidence of conflicts derived from both empirical and normative sources. Section IV provides a prelude to the detailed case study of Section V in looking at the regional setting, from which a smaller area for more intensive study is selected. The types and patterns of land use in the Highlands and Islands region are examined, making use of the available statistical sources of information. The physical, technical and economic environment within which agricultural producers in the region operate is considered, especially insofar as it leads to hypothesised inefficiencies of use and difficulties of farm business adjustment. A worked example of one of the few strategies for business expansion on hill farms is considered which reveals the practical difficulties of business expansion and the financial results. It is, however, impossible to generalize about the financial aspects in an area as physically varied as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Section V consists of a case study of agricultural adjustment, which examines changes in Okney over the decade 1966 to 1975. On the basis of the conclusions of the two predominantaly theoretical sections (I and II), it was considered necessary to explore the total - human environment insofar as it affected the economic adjustment of Okney farm bisinesses. An attempt was made to gather information which would allow the development of an explanatory model of farm business adjustment, which structually bears a close resemblance to the behavioural theory of the firm. The technique used for this explanatory study was a "key contact" questionnarie which involved interviewing both participants in and observers of the agricultural adjustment process. This was backed up before and after the field survey by a study of the available statistical sources of information on farm business adjustment. The survey yielded conclusions which would seem to corroborate the theoretical assertions of Sections I and II. Firstly field evidence suggested that there was not a single, universally held conception of efficiency in the Orcadian farming community, and that conceptions of efficiency held by farmers did significanty affect their identifiable adjustment behaviour. Secondly, the evidence suggested that the farm firm should be examined as an evolving socioeconomic entity, rather than as an equilibriating profit maximizing business. The failure government agencies planning for the agricultural sector to take account of the human environment of change may lead policy measures designed to assist in the adjustment process to generate additional adjustment problems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available