Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Innovation at Rural Enterprises: Results from a Survey of German Organic and Conventional Farmers

Unay Gailhard, ilkay and Bavorova, Miroslava (2014): Innovation at Rural Enterprises: Results from a Survey of German Organic and Conventional Farmers. Published in: Technology and Innovation , Vol. 16, (April 2014): pp. 3-17.


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The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of interpersonal networks and other information sources on the innovativeness of farmers. This understanding can be useful for organizations that are involved in extension work that aims to increase the farmers’ innovativeness and for farmers who aim to be more innovative. The study focuses on two types of farmers’ network ties: friendship ties (ties to other farmers) and affiliation ties (ties to associations). Additionally, the importance of information gathered by farmers from interpersonal sources and from media is compared. We collected data within the European Union (EU)-funded Food Industry Dynamics and Methodological Advances (FOODIMA) Project using face-to-face interviews. Our sample, which consists of 72 farmers (organic and conventional) in Germany, was used to map farmers’ innovativeness (number of innovations adopted). We analyzed the data to determine if the structure and strength of network ties can be used as predictors of innovativeness for organic and conventional farmers. When considering both the friendship and affiliation ties, the main results show that organic farmers who communicate more frequently with other farmers are more likely to be highly innovative. The large network size indicates low innovativeness on the part of organic farmers. Membership in at least one association is positively interconnected with high innovativeness of conventional farmers. Regarding information sources, the results indicate that the highly innovative farmers appreciate information from research institutes more and information from agricultural organization less than the less innovative farmers.

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