A more grounded view of ‘farmer entrepreneurship’: how Zimbabwean smallholder farmers fundamentally differ in their entrepreneurial behaviours

Timothy Manyise*, Domenico Dentoni, Jacques Trienekens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the entrepreneurial behaviours exhibited by commercial smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe, focusing on their socio-economic characteristics, and considers their implication for outcomes of livelihood resilience in a resource-constrained and turbulent rural context. Design/methodology/approach: The study used survey data collected from 430 smallholder farmers in Masvingo province, Zimbabwe. Using a two-step cluster analysis, the study constructed a typology of farmers based on their entrepreneurial behaviour and socio-economic characteristics. Findings: The results revealed that commercial smallholder farmers are heterogeneous in terms of their entrepreneurial behaviours. Four clusters were identified: non-entrepreneurial, goal-driven, means-driven and ambidextrous. Beyond their entrepreneurial behaviours, these clusters significantly differ in the socio-economic characterises (gender, age, education levels, farm size, proximity to the market and social connection) and farm performance (seasonal sales per hectare and farm income per hectare). Research limitations/implications: The typology framework relating farmers’ entrepreneurial behaviours to their socio-economic characteristics and business performance is important to tailor and therefore improve the effectiveness of farmer entrepreneurship programmes and policies. In particular, tailoring farmer entrepreneurship education is crucial to distribute land, finance and market resources in purposive ways to promote a combination of smallholder farmers’ effectual and causal behaviours at an early stage of their farm ventures. Originality/value: Researchers still know little about which farmers’ behaviours are entrepreneurial and how these behaviours manifest in action during their commercial farm activities. This research leverages effectuation and causation theory to unveil previously overlooked distinctions on farmers’ entrepreneurial behaviours, thereby enhancing a more grounded understanding of farmer entrepreneurship in a resource-constrained context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2023


  • Africa
  • Entrepreneurial behaviours
  • On-farm entrepreneurship
  • Smallholder farmers


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