Connecting business with the agricultural landscape: business strategies for sustainable rural development

Simon R. Swaffield, Robert C. Corry*, Paul Opdam, Wendy McWilliam, Jørgen Primdahl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Agribusiness enterprises link rural landscapes to global and regional markets. The nature of these business–landscape relationships is vital to the sustainability transition. Decisions by farmers and agriculture policymakers aggregate to changes in the ecology of landscapes, but the influence of food supply system businesses on rural landscape sustainability also requires scrutiny. This article uses four international cases to present a conceptual framework for investigating how different business strategies can support agricultural landscape sustainability. Insights from North America, New Zealand, The Netherlands, and Denmark inform the framework dimensions of horizontal/territorial and vertical/systemic business–landscape relationships. Three types of business model that promote rural sustainability are highlighted: provenance, cogovernance, and placemaking. These models engage strategies such as environmental management systems, certification, ecosystem and landscape services, and spatial planning. Research directions that will improve understanding about how business can engage with rural stakeholders for more sustainable rural landscapes are identified, including the need for cross disciplinary perspectives incorporating social, ecological, and business knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1369
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number7
Early online date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • cogovernance
  • food supply systems
  • placemaking
  • provenance
  • socioecological networks


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