Strategic resources and smallholder performance at the bottom of the pyramid

Matthias Olthaar*, Wilfred Dolfsma, Clemens Lutz, Florian Noseleit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In a competitive business environment at the Bottom of the Pyramid smallholders supplying global value chains may be thought to be at the whims of downstream large-scale players and local market forces, leaving no room for strategic entrepreneurial behavior. In such a context we test the relationship between the use of strategic resources and firm performance. We adopt the Resource Based Theory and show that seemingly homogenous smallholders deploy resources differently and, consequently, some do outperform others. We argue that the 'resource-based theory' results in a more fine-grained understanding of smallholder performance than approaches generally applied in agricultural economics. We develop a mixed-method approach that allows one to pinpoint relevant, industry-specific resources, and allows for empirical identification of the relative contribution of each resource to competitive advantage. The results show that proper use of quality labor, storage facilities, time of selling, and availability of animals are key capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-380
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Food and Agribusiness Management Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2019


  • Competitive advantage
  • Mixed method
  • Resource-based theory
  • Smallholder performance

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