Gittins, Peter (2022) Constrained Entrepreneurship: Exploring how English upland farmers are responding to the socio-political challenges in the beef and sheep sector. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis explores the lived experiences of English upland farmers during a time of political and economic uncertainty. It examines the constraints and challenges impacting farmers and their businesses during agricultural, rural and environmental policy transformations through a time of Brexit and COVID-19. The overarching research question explores the strategies upland beef and sheep farmers in England are using to manage their farm businesses in response to the socio-political challenges facing the sector. It is an exploratory study that engages with farmers and other agricultural industry stakeholders to understand how entrepreneurship and strategic management practices manifest in upland farming businesses. A novel qualitative methodology is used that draws heavily on the ‘industry insider’ positionality, using a multi-methods approach to explore the research question. Three units of assessment are analysed: farmers, farm businesses and the activities and processes connected to the farm. As a result, academic, practice and policy-based contributions are produced through the findings. The upland farmer segmentation framework is created, serving as a useful data collection and analytical tool to analyse the multiple units of assessment. A theoretical contribution has been made to the farm entrepreneurship literature, applying Max Weber’s metaphor of the iron cage to investigate constrained entrepreneurship in the context of upland farming. Empirical and theoretical contributions have been made, creating Weberian influenced ideal types of farmers, farm businesses and farm business strategies that provide a nuanced understanding into the constrained institutional contexts that upland farmers operate within. Findings suggest that great heterogeneity exists amongst English upland farmers, with personal, economic, social and environmental challenges constraining effective farm entrepreneurship.

GITTINS - THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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