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Andersson, Lucas, 2015. Convergent or divergent attitudes towards Swedish agricultural business development : an attitude survey among Swedish farmers and LRF representatives. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Economics



Swedish farmers are disposed to institutional risks, where changes in the agricultural policy landscape are regular. To a great extent, the importance of a well functioning farm lobby association is eminent when policy decisions are decided in Brussels. Swedish farmers are supposed to be represented by their lobbying organisation, Swedish Farmers Association (LRF). During the last 17 years, LRF has increased their member base even though the number of Swedish farmers has decreased by 28 % during the same period. Due to the factual development of an increasingly heterogeneous member base, organisational changes in LRF are inevitable. Problems with representation, portfolio problems and diffusion of goals may affect the utility of LRF membership for farmers. This thesis is based on the notion that farm members in LRF must be certain that they share attitudes concerning Swedish agriculture with their representatives within LRF, in order to be assured that their interests are being safeguarded in both national and international agricultural policy negotiations. The manifested question this study is built upon is whether Swedish farmers and LRF representatives have convergent or divergent attitudes regarding Swedish agricultural business development? By piecing together parts of the Principal-agent theory, Public Choice theory and literature within the field of organisational sciences, a conceptual framework is established, with attitudes taking a central role. Attitudes in this study are viewed as influential to behaviour and decision-making, hence it is of great importance that farmers and LRF representatives have coinciding attitudes towards Swedish agricultural business development. To measure attitudes at an itemised level, the constant sum approach was used and incorporated into a web-based questionnaire. The questionnaire was distributed to 250 Swedish farmers and 131 LRF representatives. 63 farmers and 63 LRF representatives completed the questionnaire, providing a response rate of 33 %. Mann-Whitney tests were used to statistically analyse the collected data. The analysis reveals that farmers and LRF representatives assess the stated answer alternatives both convergently and divergently. However, significant differences in attitudes were displayed between farmers and LRF representatives concerning e.g. the use of new methods and taxation of inputs to improve sustainability, whether Swedish agricultural production should be characterised by specialisation or differentiation, and the importance of agricultural associations.
LRF must rethink how they communicate their importance and how they market themselves by highlighting what usefulness they contribute to the individual farmer. Hence, the significance and raison d'etre of LRF must be clearly communicated. Without a lobby organisation Swedish agriculture would risk to diminish on the political agenda and attain little notice in the fast moving media noise. Nonetheless, the take-home message for LRF is to continuously have a dialogue with the association’s original members (the decreasing amount of Swedish farmers) in order to develop a stronger association with coinciding attitudes. If LRF does not share common ground with their farm members the association might become an overgrown organisation with diminished importance for Swedish agriculture.

Main title:Convergent or divergent attitudes towards Swedish agricultural business development
Subtitle:an attitude survey among Swedish farmers and LRF representatives
Authors:Andersson, Lucas
Supervisor:Hansson, Helena
Examiner:Hakelius, Karin
Series:Examensarbete / SLU, Institutionen för ekonomi
Volume/Sequential designation:975
Year of Publication:2015
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NY001 Agricultural Programme - Economics and Management 270 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Economics
Keywords:agriculture, attitudes, farm associations, heterogeneity, lobbying, LRF, member representation
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Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Economics and management
Deposited On:24 Sep 2015 14:23
Metadata Last Modified:24 Sep 2015 14:23

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