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Of Time and the Enterprise

Of Time and the Enterprise: North American Family Farm Management in a Context of Resource Marginality

John W. Bennett
Seena B. Kohl
Geraldine Binion
Copyright Date: 1982
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 516
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  • Book Info
    Of Time and the Enterprise
    Book Description:

    Of Time and the Enterprise was first published in 1982. Of Time and the Enterprise is the result of 12 years’ research in the Canadian sector of the northern Great Plains -- a 7,000-square-mile region that was one of the last areas in North America to be populated by agricultural settlers. This late settlement permitted a reconstruction of the area’s history and economic and social development unparalleled in the literature. This book has several dimensions. It is, first, a meticulous study of the North American family farm. Bennett considers such aspects of the family farm as the ways that family members relate to one another and how the various members, especially the wife, participate in management of the enterprise. The book is also a study of agricultural management as an adaptive process. Farm operators must juggle the demands of their families, communities, and the national market in determining the conduct of the business. Finally, the book is a study of the development process on a recent frontier and thus has many implications for agricultural and community development in the Third World. As the first detailed study of entrepreneurial agriculture in North America, Of Time and the Enterprise combines quantitative and qualitative analysis and looks at the family farm as a form of social behavior, not merely as a form of economic performance. Bennett presents a new interpretation of decision-making, resource allocation, and the influence of family, community, and cultural traditions which he argues must be seen as part of a larger social system.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5522-9
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
    J. W. B.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xiv-xvii)
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. PART I: Introduction

    • Chapter 1 Agricultural Management as an Adaptive System
      (pp. 3-27)

      This is a study of agricultural activities in western North America, made by anthropologists specializing in social, economic, and ecological analysis. The study is “anthropological” insofar as it is based on a particular place and time: southwestern Saskatchewan over a period of about 12 years in the 1960s and early 1970s. The geographical focus is a region of varied topography, flora, and climate of from 5,600 to 7,000 square miles, providing a microcosm of the conditions under which agriculture is conducted in most parts of western North America. The Saskatchewan locale also offers certain special characteristics of its own: the...

    • Chapter 2 The Jasper Region of Southwestern Saskatchewan: Settlement and Agricultural History
      (pp. 28-56)

      The Saskatchewan Cultural Ecology Research Program was conceived from the outset as a study of a region, rather than of a community.12This decision to alter the traditional style of the anthropological field study was inevitable given the nature of the topic: the way a North American population had carved out a settlement in a land of great geographical diversity. The Europeans who colonized the United States and Canada were newcomers to a land of great richness thinly populated by an indigenous population that lacked sophisticated technology and subsisted by hunting, food gathering, or simple agriculture. There were no clear-cut...

  7. PART II: Coping with Physical Resources

    • Chapter 3 Coping with Physical Resources
      (pp. 59-108)

      This chapter continues the ecological theme of Chapter 2 by presenting an account of how Jasper farm and ranch operators handled the physical resources of the region. It is the first of a series of chapters dealing with the milieux of constraints and opportunities that influence the conduct of agriculture. The chapter most closely resembling this one in style and mood is Chapter 9, which deals with the “economic resources” of the national and local economy that Jasper operators must manage in order to acquire capital and other factors of production. The reader might wish to read that chapter and...

  8. PART III: The Microsocial Milieu of Jasper Agriculture:: The Agrifamily System

    • Chapter 4 Introduction to Part III: Farms and Families in North American Agriculture
      (pp. 111-127)
      John W. Bennett and Seena B. Kohl

      We turn now to an examination of the second set of constraints and resources governing the conduct of agricultural activity in the Jasper region: the microsocial factors of family and community. This is equivalent to a study of the “farm family,” as it has been called in American agricultural literature. Our conception of the topic is somewhat broader, however. In our effort to understand the national institution of agricultural production and management, we view the family farm as one aspect of a larger whole, which we call theagrifamily system. Within that system may be found the agrifamily proper, which...

    • Chapter 5 The Agrifamily System
      (pp. 128-147)
      John W. Bennett and Seena B. Kohl

      Introductory note:The analyst of North American agricultural sociology has two alternatives for the organization of his subject matter and approach: (a) he can model the production units as “firms” or enterprises; and the people and their relationships as a “household” and/or “family”, using concepts and methods for the analysis of the two systems derived from different disciplines: economics in the first instance; sociology-anthropology for the second, (b) The second approach is to develop a model whichcombinesthe two entities—the economic and the social; the firm and the family-household—at the outset, and which then is used to...

    • Chapter 6 The Agrifamily Household
      (pp. 148-171)
      Seena B. Kohl and John W. Bennett

      The fact that the farm family and the enterprise have overlapping tasks and goals has been long recognized by both rural sociologists and agricultural economists.43Most of their research has been concerned with value-attitude data on the relationship of the wife to the profitable operation of the enterprise.44Their approach has involved the isolation of particular family activities related to the production function. The research has for the most part failed to recognize the high degree of integration of both systems, so that (for example) the contribution that women make to the ecomonic enterprise in the performance of their routine...

    • Chapter 7 Illustrative Case Materials: Succession, Enterprise Development, and the Role of the Wife
      (pp. 172-188)
      Seena B. Kohl and John W. Bennett

      This chapter continues the presentation of the agrifamily with case studies of particular agrifamilies, making use of our descriptive data derived from a decade of fieldwork. Many of the descriptions offered here will be treated analytically in Part V, where we have reduced the ethnographic data, plus documentary materials, to computer variables for tabulation.

      The case study materials provide a down-to-earth view of the way in which the agrifamily is put together. The important point is that the agrifamily is a human system, a complex whole in which people play different roles and attempt to resolve the conflicts and inconsistencies...

  9. PART IV: The Macrosocial Milieu of Jasper Agriculture

    • Chapter 8 Jasper in the National Structure
      (pp. 191-215)

      The four chapters of Part IV deal with the constraints and opportunities emanating from the macrosocial institutions and agencies that Jasper people contended with in the conduct of agricultural enterprise. The term “national structure” was used in Chapter 5 to refer to factors originating outside the community, although these factors had also become integral parts of the Jasper social system. There is a constant interaction between local and external forces in the conduct of agricultural enterprise.

      Chapter 8 is concerned primarily with an analysis of instrumental values of the farming locality, and of the national organizations and institutions, and of...

    • Chapter 9 Coping with the Economic Environment
      (pp. 216-249)

      Chapter 8 concluded with a discussion of the ambivalence with which crop farmers and cattle ranchers in Jasper viewed the necessity of dealing with outside agencies that control the resources needed for agricultural activity. Whatever their attitudes, however, all Jasper agricultural operators were required to cope with the regulations, bureaus, markets, and representatives of the national structure, because such relationships were essential to maintaining a viable agricultural business. In this chapter we shall examine specific details of these relationships, against the background of the analytic concepts presented in Chapter 8.

      Since we turn now to specific managerial techniques and strategies,67...

    • Chapter 10 Social Aspects of Resource Allocation: Grazing Land and Irrigation Water
      (pp. 250-294)

      Chapter 9 was concerned with the way the individual manager coped with the economic and technological factors of production. The present chapter will be concerned with the basic physical resources of land and water. Most of the issues to be discussed focus on livestock production, since, in the period of study, increase in cattle was the major economic development initiative in Jasper agriculture. The major objective of the chapter is to demonstrate how social relations among Jasper farm and ranch operators, and between them and government agencies controlling land and water, affected the allocation of these two vital resources. The...

    • Chapter 11 Of Time and the Enterprise
      (pp. 295-314)

      Part IV concludes with an analysis of how economic change and development influence the strategy of enterprise management on Jasper farms and ranches. “Influence” here refers to strategies of operation, as they evolve with the passage of time in the agrifamily cycles. The reader may wish to review Chapter 5, which discusses the agrifamily system, before proceeding. The present chapter tries to show the relevance of the materials presented in Chapters 8 and 9 for the agrifamily and its long-term management and continuity.

      The key concept for this chapter istime. For the producer, a market economy is a strange...

  10. PART V: Management Style

    • Chapter 12 The Jasper Region and the Sample of Enterprisers
      (pp. 317-336)

      In addition to being a culminating section for all that has preceded it, Part V is a self-contained methodological experiment. The material in Part V stands midway between the fields of agricultural management and cultural anthropology—and it will probably satisfy practitioners of neither! It concerns an approach to the problem of how North American farm operators make decisions about their enterprises and crops and the way they carry out these decisions over time. Our concern is not with financial and economic processes but with the behavior of people in managerial roles within the frame of the agrifamily system. An...

    • Chapter 13 Management Style and Quality of Enterprise: Procedures and Categories
      (pp. 337-360)

      Management styleis the basic concept of our methodological experiment to deal with “soft” factors of management as if they were “hard” indicators of differences in managerial outlook and activity — as “hard” as monetary measures. In turn, this concept is based on a view of agricultural management as an “adaptive system”: a set of initiatives taken by the operator of an enterprise in order to satisfy certain objectives, and requiring trade-offs between means and ends related to the enterprise on the one hand and the family and community on the other. This view of management was contrasted with the normative...

    • Chapter 14 Management Style and Agrifamily Cycles
      (pp. 361-385)

      Thus far we have learned that, during the decade of the 1960s, increased economic opportunity was reflected in increasing development activity by the managers of enterprises, and also the increasing quality of most of the enterprises. We have also seen that cattle production was the most economically favorable mode for Jasper, as reflected in the high quality of a majority of the enterprises with cattle as the important source of income; but also that the straight ranching enterprises were the most conservatively managed. We have found three important influences on the management styles exhibited by the operators: mode of production,...

    • Chapter 15 Management Style and Managerial Performance
      (pp. 386-401)

      By “performance” we do not refer to the qualities usually implied by the term in economics analysis, since we are working in a larger milieu and over a longer period of time. A “style” of management is a temporal vector, a process. This is a classical anthropological conception: the notion that behavior perseverates due to the assimilation by the individual, during his socialization and his continuing experience, of ways of acting that appear to satisfy his needs or accomplish his goals. That is, humans usually do not “make choices” among a series of “alternatives” without having some preparation to do...

    • Chapter 16 Management Style, Social Status, and Consumption Levels
      (pp. 402-421)

      As a result of the prevailing cultural egalitarianism and the rhetorical denial of social differences, social status and stratification in small North American farming communities are not readily visible. At the same time, differences in income and economic status are recognized, and these are used in subtle ways to indicate differences in prestige and social participation. In a recently settled community like Jasper, the economic and ethnic backgrounds of one’s parents or grandparents, and the time of their original settlement in the region, also count as indicators of social status.

      The most useful way of describing personal status in a...

    • Chapter 17 Management Style and the Process of Entrepreneurial & Agriculture
      (pp. 422-429)

      The fact is that the way a person manages his enterprise is not a simple function of his age or the stage of his enterprise. If it were, it would be possible to speak of conservative styles of management being associated with increasing age and increasing maturity of the enterprise. To some extent one can so speak, but only with qualifications. Such a characterization neglects the fact that the manager’s behavior is influenced by many factors, including market conditions, the needs of his family, and the needs and interests of his putative successor as manager. All these factors and others...

    • Chapter 18 Reflections
      (pp. 430-446)

      It is time for a recapitulation and some comments on wider implications of the materials in this book.

      This book was based mainly on the concept of theagrifamily system, which is an idea with two dimensions. First, it is a technical term for the “family farm,” which avoids the special nostalgic overtones of the term as it has emerged in the twentieth century in North American rural society, in which the institution of family-operated agricultural enterprises is viewed as a bastion of character and national solidarity. At another level, the family farm has been viewed as a method of...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 449-464)
  12. Literature Cited
    (pp. 467-482)
  13. Index
    (pp. 485-494)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 495-495)