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Title: The family farm through a succession lens : towards understandings of contemporary practices and processes
Author: Williams, Fiona Jayne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 8846
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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This study examines change in the family farming sector through the lens of succession. It explores empirically the succession expectations and intentions of farmers and their children in a changing contextual landscape. The research is underpinned by two theoretical concepts: the ‘farm adjustment strategy’ facilitated the development of structural reference points in respect of the family farm business and household; and application of tenets of van der Ploeg’s (1994) ‘styles’ work enabled analysis of structural change in the farm business to be viewed through a qualitative succession lens. A ‘pragmatist’ mixed-methods approach comprised a farmer survey and next generation in-depth interviews. The analytical approach accommodated issues of temporality and facilitated the linkage and study of multiple components of change. It was found that immense variability exists in terms of how succession is managed in practice. The structural characteristics and capacity of the farm business clearly impact upon succession choices and positions, but intrinsic drivers also have a very significant bearing on succession and its potential outcome. The research revealed three broad outcomes of next generation succession intention, each forming the basis of a succession style: a desire and intention to succeed to the family farm, reflected in more traditional succession modes; an intention to leave the family farm, thus opting out of farming per se; and part-time succession, characterised by off-farm professional work, flexibility and a lifestyle preference that encompasses aspects of farming and non-farming worlds. The findings presented in this thesis suggest that, through succession, forms of farm management and operation are evolving. Family farming entities are adapting and becoming increasingly heterogeneous. Through a contemporary succession lens, the notion of the family farm now comprises an assortment of family-owned and family-managed businesses with an array of diversified business, amenity and farming interests.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Family farms ; Inheritance and succession ; Family corporations ; Family-owned business enterprises ; Farmers