Fairness, family relationships, and farm transfer

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Taylor, Janet Edgar
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University of Guelph

This thesis is comprised of three studies based on 36 farm families who had transferred or were making provisions for transferring the farm. Data were collected from the older generation parents, the farm successor, and one of the off-farm siblings in each family. The first study was a qualitative analysis that assessed the applicability of the entrepreneur and yeoman succession patterns that were developed by Salamon (e.g. 1985; 1992). Strong support was not found for the entrepreneur and yeoman typology. Instead two approaches to farm management were identified: the expander and the conservator. The combination of these two approaches in the older farmer and younger successor comprises four succession patterns: expander-expander; expander-conservator; conservator-expander; and conservator-conservator. Each had different working relationships, succession strategies, and areas of potential conflict. The second qualitative study explored how families determined how to make the transfer fair. Strong support was found for global reciprocity as a conceptual framework for understanding how families determined fairness in farm transfer. Specific attention was paid to the relationship among conflict over transfer, closeness of sibling relationships, perception of fairness, and determination of fairness. The third study examined the role of family dynamics, fairness, and conflict over the transfer from the perspective of the farm successor and one off-farm sibling. Scores were combined from the farm successor and off-farm sibling to obtain relational family data. Using a multiple regression analysis, strong support was found for the hypothesis that lower scores on the Family of Origin Scale, disagreement on fairness, and disagreement on rules of fairness were predictive of conflict over transfer, Implications are discussed in terms of interventions with farm families and future research.

farm families, ownership transfer, farm successor, off-farm sibling, succession pattern, family dynamics, fairness, conflict