Donor agencies and developing country governments have started to target agroindustry private sector development and agribusiness. Entrepreneurship, innovation, and change have become major imperatives for enhancing sector performance and stimulating socio-economic development. Yet little is known about the nature of the entrepreneur and firm-level innovation processes within the specific business setting of agricultural value chains in developing countries. On the one hand, development studies have historically focused on innovation systems and value chain development on a macro- and meso level, providing limited insight into the entrepreneur and firm-level innovation processes. On the other hand, entrepreneurship and innovation have received sustained interest from economists, sociologists and management scholars, but studies are largely limited to the developed country firm and Western approaches. For this reason the aim of the PhD project is to link the disciplines and investigate the nature and background of agribusiness entrepreneurs in least developed countries. The research plan includes a discussion of theoretical background, a review of existing studies, and the collection of empirical data on Tanzanian agribusiness entrepreneurs.
Completion report - Summary:
Although entrepreneurship has started to receive much support, very few entrepreneurs manage to successfully grow their organizations. This project supported a PhD study to empirically investigate this problem by studying the role of thefounding entrepreneurs in the transformation from micro enterprises to small firms based on qualitative data from longitudinal case studies of agribusiness and food entrepreneurs operating micro- to small-scale businesses in Tanzania. In-depth data from interviews and observations, questionnaires, and secondary reports were collected over a three-year period. The tindings indicate that personal preferences, multiple business ownership, and serious management problems, especially with human resource management, influence growth paths and can lead to alternative growth strategies. This suggests that scholars and practitioners need to pay more attention to the microprocesses underpinning enterprise growth when designing entrepreneurship studies and support programs. Furthermore, aspiring owner-managers are challenged to build managerial and organizational capabilities that function in the specific growth environment their emerging firms face. Without much prior experience in small business management, both individually and collectively, building such capabilies involves not only learning but also sensemaking processes in relation to organizational growth.