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Multiple business ownership in the farm sector: assessing the enterprise and employment contributions of farmers in Cambridgeshire

Carter, Sara (1999) Multiple business ownership in the farm sector: assessing the enterprise and employment contributions of farmers in Cambridgeshire. Journal of Rural Studies, 15 (4). pp. 417-429. ISSN 0743-0167

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Abstract

Multiple business ownership has become an important theme within the small firms research literature. While early studies emphasised its role in reducing business risk, more recently portfolio entrepreneurship has been recognised as an important growth strategy, particularly in sectors where economies of scale can be achieved at a relatively low level. Research studies specifically examining multiple business ownership are still scarce, but the parallels between portfolio entrepreneurship in non-farm sectors and farm pluriactivity have been noted. Although pluriactivity has been subject to extensive investigation in recent years, analysis has generally focused on farm-centred diversification, rather than the wider entrepreneurial activities of the farmer. Using a survey of nearly 300 farm owners in Cambridgeshire, this exploratory study analyses the incidence of portfolio entrepreneurship in the farm sector and assesses its contribution to enterprise and employment creation. The results demonstrate that a core of farmers have multiple business interests and that these additional business activities make a substantial contribution to both numbers of enterprises and employment creation. While previous studies of pluriactivity have generally used the farm business as the main unit of analysis, it is argued that including the wider business activities of the farm owner enables a more precise estimation of the total contribution of farmers to rural economic development.