Searching for entrepreneurs among small business owner-managers in agriculture

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The relationships between entrepreneurial competence, competence development and entrepreneurial performance in small firms represent an area that has fascinated researchers for decades. Identifying such linkages is also important for agricultural research and practice. In this study modern concepts of individual competence were integrated with entrepreneurship and organizational learning theory, leading to the following research question: How do high- and low-performing small agricultural firms differ in terms of the extent to which their owner-managers develop and use specific entrepreneurial competence? A multiple-source case study was conducted in which quantitative and qualitative data from 19 horticultural firms in the Netherlands were combined. Based on the differences between high- and low-performing firms, seven propositions were formulated that further specify the relationships between entrepreneurial performance, the owner-managers’ competence and the development of this competence. The results indicate that the relationship between entrepreneurial performance and competence is influenced by business goals and the owner-managers’ competence awareness. It is proposed that entrepreneurial performance is correlated with the development of competence associated with the first phase of the identification and pursuit of an opportunity. Furthermore, the results suggest interdependence between existing competence and competence development within competence domains (horizontal development), and between competence domains (vertical development).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-51
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • organizational learning framework
  • small firm growth
  • opportunity identification
  • venture performance
  • farm business
  • competence
  • perspective
  • management
  • improvability
  • knowledge


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