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Open AccessArticle

Three-Fold Embedding: Farm Development in Relation to Its Socio-Material Context

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Department of Applied Research, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, De Drieslag 4, 8251 JZ Dronten, The Netherlands
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Rural Sociology, Wageningen University and Research, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Wageningen Economic Research, Wageningen University and Research, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1677; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101677
Received: 19 August 2017 / Revised: 3 September 2017 / Accepted: 16 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
Understanding heterogeneity in farm development strategies is important in order to design effective policies and support programs to increase the sustainability of agriculture in relation to its socio-material context. Using a unique case study of 102 dairy farmers in The Netherlands, all operating in a highly similar socio-material context, this paper studies the differences in the relation of farms with the socio-material context. To this end, the concept of three-fold embedding is developed and tested using the ideal-typical characteristics of three patterns of farm development that were identified in the case study: (1) maximising total milk production; (2) optimising milk production using mainly on-farm resources; and (3) diversified on-farm production. Three-fold embedding was conceptualised in relation to the following dimensions: (1) value chain relations; (2) socio-cultural relations; and (3) natural resource relations, while using a scale ranging from a Close to a Stretched set of relations. The concept of three-fold embedding proves to be useful to identify in a non-normative and non-binary manner meaningful differences between patterns of farm development. These differences relate to differences in opportunity identification and strategic decision-making. The concept supports a relational perspective in studying farm strategy development using a sociology of entrepreneurship approach. View Full-Text
Keywords: farm development; dairy farm; embeddedness; strategy; perception; heterogeneity farm development; dairy farm; embeddedness; strategy; perception; heterogeneity
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Methorst, R.; Roep, D.; Verstegen, J.; Wiskerke, J.S.C. Three-Fold Embedding: Farm Development in Relation to Its Socio-Material Context. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1677.

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