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Can management advice to small-scale farmers trigger strategic thinking?

De Romemont A., Faure G., Macombe C.. 2014. In : Eds. Thomas Aenis, Andrea Knierim, aja-Catrin Riecher, Rebecka Ridder, Heike Schobert, Holger Fischer ; IFSA. 11th European IFSA Symposium, "Farming systems facing global challenges: Capacities and strategies", 1- 4 April 2014 in Berlin, Germany.. s.l. : s.n., p. 396-407. European IFSA Symposium. 11, 2014-04-01/2014-04-04, Berlin (Allemagne).

To contribute to the question of what fosters entrepreneurial learning, we consider the building of strategic thinking to be an entrepreneurial learning process, identified through the concept of proactivity. We consider that entrepreneurs are not "born" but "made". We analyze the role of management advice on entrepreneurial l earning, exploring the building of proactivity of small-scale farmers. We assume that all farmers, whatever their resources and education levels, can build more proactivity through the learning process triggered by advice, through training and exchange about agriculture, and through better command of management tools. Through a field work in Benin based on the analysis of learning processes in a management ad- vice for family farm (MAFF) approach, we considered a sample of nineteen farmers before and after one year of training, to analyze the evolution of their proactivity. Through technical and management training based on planning, follow up and evaluation tools, for both literate and illiterate farmers, MAFF approach enables farmers to better understand their environment, assess their own resources and situation with "new eyes" and enact differently in this environment. The level of proactivity before the training is also a strong element influencing the learning process: proactive farmers act more quickly toward change, but farmers considered as "not proactive" before training attribute important changes triggered by MAFF, discovering their power on their environment and the possibility of change, acting to ward more planned activities, leading to more reflexive strategic thinking. Farmers' entrepreneurship is triggered by MAFF, enabling them to build their strategic thinking, being more proactive towards change. Those results also show that change, especially on entrepreneurship, is quick, built during the first year of MAFF, but longer time is needed for a full learning process leading to more autonomous strategic thinking and good command of management tools.

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