Source: MICHIGAN STATE UNIV submitted to
COLLECTIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED FARMS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
EXTENDED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1002580
Grant No.
2014-68006-21863
Project No.
MICL08493
Proposal No.
2013-04804
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
A1601
Project Start Date
Apr 15, 2014
Project End Date
Apr 14, 2020
Grant Year
2014
Project Director
Ross, B.
Recipient Organization
MICHIGAN STATE UNIV
(N/A)
EAST LANSING,MI 48824
Performing Department
Agricultural, Food & Res Econ
Non Technical Summary
This research project integrates research into the benefits of collective entrepreneurial action by small and medium-sized farms with the development of educational modules on collective entrepreneurship in agriculture. The research portion of the integrated project will examine the development of eight networks of farms; four networks will be studied in both Michigan and Missouri. The project will use a combination of research tools, including qualitative case studies and quantitative social network analysis, to identify the mechanisms that support the collective action and to identify the critical success factors that lead to superior performance of the farms engaged in the networks. The project team will work with the leaders of selected networks in a participatory action model for grounding the studies. This will ensure that research outputs will serve to enhance the strategies and operations of the participating farmers in the network, as well provide repeatable lessons to the professional community of economists and sociologists working on entrepreneurship and economic development. The educational portion of the project will create teaching materials suitable for undergraduate courses in agricultural entrepreneurship, graduate courses in agribusiness management and research methods, and continuing education courses for programs such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.
Animal Health Component
0%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
20%
Applied
40%
Developmental
40%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
6046230301050%
6026220310050%
Goals / Objectives
The proposed integrated project seeks to build a foundation of conceptual and empirical research on the use of collective entrepreneurship as a means to advance the economic status of small and medium-sized farms and to create an educational curriculum for teaching collective entrepreneurship to on-campus and off-campus audiences. The outputs of the research and educational components of the project should also provide inputs into programs of rural economic development.The specific project objectives of this project are as follows:1. Develop a curricular module on conceptual models of collective entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector for delivery to undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences.2. Complete an empirical analysis of eight collective entrepreneurship networks, four in each of Michigan and Missouri. The eight case networks will be chosen to highlight the structural and behavioral characteristics that are identified in the conceptual foundation.a. Complete a qualitative analysis of each of the eight networks in the form of a research case study (Yin, 1994; Stake, 1995; Westgren and Zering, 1998). The research case studies will specifically address the phenomenon of collective action by the entrepreneurial network, as well as the relevant contextual variables that drive the structure, behavior, and performance of the network and its members.b. Complete a quantitative analysis of each of the eight networks in the form of social network analysis (Wasserman and Faust, 1994; Carrington, Scott, and Wasserman 2005; Jackson, 2008). The network analysis will include structural analysis, including the number and nature of ties among network members, and measures of centrality, position, and density.c. In addition, the quantitative analysis will include the identification of member roles, nature of network connections, and correlates with social and economic characteristics of members (i.e. social capital and risk attitude).d. Develop a curricular module on using network analysis for the study of collective entrepreneurship that will include materials on network analysis methods and a comparative study of the empirical analyses of the eight networks.3. Translate the eight research cases into teaching cases that can be used in undergraduate teaching and for off-campus instruction with audiences of producers and professionals in rural economic development.4. National dissemination of extension publications and curriculum materials on collective entrepreneurial activities.
Project Methods
The methods for this project are as follows:Project Efforts:1. Conceptual ModelThe first step is to complete the compilation of materials on collective entrepreneurship that will serve as a foundation for the design of the research case studies, the questionnaires for network members, and for translation into teaching materials. As part of our refinement of the conceptual model, the PIs will discuss the project objectives and methods with leaders of case networks and will conduct a webinar via the Michigan Food Network Learning and Innovation Platform to engage industry stakeholders to elicit feedback on the proposed program. 2. Case Study NetworksThe project team has identified eight food networks as case studies. We have purposefully narrow our sample to focus on Midwest region (Michigan and Missouri) food hubs as included in the USDA Food Hubs Working List updated on May 9, 2013. Our focus on food hubs, as one form on food network, is done to minimize the variation between cases and to allow for direct comparison of food networks. 3. Data CollectionThe project team will meet with leaders of the case study networks within the first three months of the project . These meetings will allow the project team to discuss how data can and should be obtained to complete the qualitative (case studies) and quantitative (network analyses) investigations of the structure and behavior of the networks. These discussions will be used in support of the protocol design to obtain IRB approvals at the two institutions. Under the direction of the PIs, the graduate students will begin collection of extant materials, such as membership lists over time, reports of projects and events, and data on throughput, customer base, etc. The project team will use informants from each network to begin data collection, both for qualitative data and for the structural connections within the network. Key informants for this study will include: owner/managers of member organizations and food hub consultants/extension agents. The Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network will assist in identification of informants as necessary. The collection of case study and network data will proceed contemporaneously. In the second year of the project, the data will be segregated, compiled, and archived for the two separate analyses.Network AnalysisNetwork data will be coded and archived in a spreadsheet. They will be entered into both UCINET and Pajek, two of the standard software packages used in social network studies. We will produce a structural analyses of the eight networks. The structures will be visually displayed, although analyses of the visual representations are not useful if the networks are too dense (many connections among member nodes) or too extensive. We have no a priori hypotheses about structures of the eight case networks. The statistical analyses of the structures will identify important positional roles in the networks: bridges between subnetworks, most connected, most central, etc. In addition, where there are multiple types of connections (buyer/seller, consulting, group leadership, etc.) the statistical analysis will show the degree of overlap (reinforcement).Member AnalysisIn concert with the network analysis, we will also analyze attribute data (e.g. type, participation, positional roles, geographic location, etc.) for the nodes (members) to see correlations with network position. In addition to general member attributes, collected via key informants, we plan to collect data on individual member behavioral attributes: member social capital motives and member risk preferences. To elicit these motives and preferences, we propose conducting both a social capital motives survey and a risk preference elicitation experiment. The resulting data will allow us to potentially link network outcomes and success to important individual level behavioral characteristics. The social capital motives survey and individual risk preference experiment will be implemented via online survey software and all network members will be invited to complete the tasks. The group level risk preference experiment, however, will be implemented via an online forum where small groups of members from a given network can asynchronously participate in risk preference elicitation tasks.Organizational Legitimacy AnalysisWe will use measurement scales based upon the Suchman (1995) definition of legitimacy that will measure (a) how each food hub is perceived by members of ­ all the stakeholder groups (growers, buyers, owners), (b) what each stakeholder group holds as the ideal structure, behavior, and performance (i.e. their expectations) of a food hub, and (c) the size of the gap between perceptions and expectations. Across all stakeholders, the legitimacy of the particular food hub is determined by the aggregate gap that exists between perceptions and expectations.4. Research Case StudiesThe eight research case studies necessarily will be both embedded and multilevel cases. Data will be collected at both the firm level and the network level, with explicit analysis of the relationships that exist between member firms' strategies and the network structure and strategy. Because individuals serve both firm-level roles (i.e. economic and managerial) and member roles in the collective, including the possibility of formal leadership, it is necessary to capture the interactions. Moreover, the phenomenon of collective entrepreneurship will be embedded in the broader business environment. Because we have chosen two regions with explicitly like and unlike networks between them, we can also do a meta-analysis of the eight cases, as well as comparisons including by region, model type, and legal status. These analyses will be research outputs that will translate directly into curricular materials, particularly for graduate-level instruction.5. Curriculum Materials Design and WorkshopsThe materials and an initial curriculum design will be tested in a workshop. This workshop will be hosted for two constituencies: 1) food hub consultants, innovation counselors, and extension personnel selected from Missouri and Michigan, and 2) teachers of agribusiness management courses from the membership of the AEM, IBE, and TLC Sections of the AAEA. We propose a total of 20 participants in this workshop (10 from each constituency). The primary purpose of this workshop will be to test the materials for professionals engaged with farm entrepreneurship, new firms in the agri-food sector, and economic development as well as to provide a vigorous and useful vetting for the cases and the other curricular materials. For both workshops, we will engage teaching and learning assessment experts from MSU to aid in the collection of effective feedback on materials design and execution.Output Evaluation:The results of this project will be assessed using the following methods:1. An internal assessment process in which the PIs will review the results of case studies conducted in the counterpart state (i.e. MSU PIs will review the results of MO cases and vice versa).2. Case study results and network analyses will be shared with the leadership/informants of each of the eight chosen networks. Feedback will be obtained from these individuals to verify the analysis and test the face validity of the results.3. The normal review process for scientific publications for the manuscripts regarding the network analyses, research case studies, and meta-analyses.4. Teaching materials will be vetted by groups in a workshop of extension professionals and Product Center innovation counselors as well as agribusiness teachers with experience in cases and case method instruction.

Progress 04/15/18 to 04/14/19

Outputs
Target Audience:The efforts associated with the project reached the following target audiences: participants of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Knowledge Network; food hub owners/managers across the U.S.; academics (faculty and students); extension specialists; and food industry professionals. Changes/Problems:The food hubs in the Missouri region that were chosen for stakeholder interviews have all failed. Our assessment of the reasons for these failures is that the founders developed unsustainable strategies, given the business environment in the region. The research team sought new cases for interviews and surveys, but the organizations that claim to be food hubs do not fit the pattern of structure and behavior that matches the organizations studied by Michigan State team members. The Missouri team redirected its time and financial resources in 2018 to an analysis of food hub typology to better understand the types of strategies and structures that exist across the United States. The team obtained the dataset from the 2015 National Food Hubs Survey through the auspices of the Michigan State grant awardee. The data have been cleaned and significant work has been completed on transforming the raw data into more useful categorical data for completing hierarchical and nonhierarchical cluster analyses. These analyses will be completed prior to the project end date. Products from preliminary analyses are listed in this report. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The project provided outgoing training and professional development for one PhD student (MSU) and one MS student (Missouri). Funding from this project has provided the students the opportunity to develop greater proficiency in qualitative and quantlitative analysis, and interview and experimental survey design/implementation through one-on-one mentoring with project investigators, individual study, and hands-on experience. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Updates and results from the project have been disseminated through presentations at academic and professional conferences, and via personal communication with food hub owners, managers and stakeholders at industry and research meetings. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?The following activities with be undertaken by the project team in the next reporting period: 1. The project team will continue to leverage its collaboration with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems to access the National Food Hub Surveys. Wewill also distributethe modifiedFood Hub Risk Survey to all U.S.food hubs (excluding those already surveyed under previous survey).The survey data will be analyzed and used to strengthen ourprevious research findings on risk preceptions among U.S. food hubs. 2. The project team will continue its analysis of the National Local Food Marketing Practices Survey to test for taxonomic differences between food hubs, farmers markets, and other direct and intermediated marketing channels. 3. The project team will further develop the set of teaching materials (lectures, case studies, etc.) based on previous research activites and addtionalinterviews with selected food hubs. These teaching materials will be made available to the Food HubManagement Certificate Program.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Objective 1. Develop a curricular model on conceptual models of collective entreprenuership for graduate and undergraduate students.No new work completed for this objective. Objective 2. Complete an empirical analysis of eight collective entreprenuership networks. Subobjective a. Qualitative analysis. A comparative case study analysis of the selected food hubs in Michigan has been completed. The empirical study analyzes different organizational structures of food hubs from the perspective of the entrepreneurship processes by which they were formed. The findings of the study show that food hubs aim to simultaneously create social and economic value. Social value is created by addressing needs of small and medium-sized farmers to access larger markets, establishing scale-appropriate infrastructure and food safety procedures, improving healthy food access in local communities, preserving family farms, maintaining farm identity, and/or strengthening local and regional food systems as a whole. Social mission is at the core of their strategy and decision making. Meanwhile, economic value is created in the form of revenues. Food hubs pursue revenue-creation strategies to build economically viable enterprises. Diversifying funding sources and strategies that align with food hubs' social value proposition are critical for food hub survival and growth. Subjective b/c. Quantitative analysis. The project team has collaborated with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems to access the 2015 and 2017 National Food Hub Survey data. The project team has also completed a survey on food hub supply chain risks. The survey instrument was developed based on a conceptual model developed by the project team. The survey draws from both extensive literature reviews of supply chain risk management and food hubs, as well as face-to-face interviews with key food hub informants (e.g., food hub managers, representatives from the MSU Center Regional Food Systems) conducted in earlier stages of the project. The survey was distributed to the same set of food hubs that completed the 2017 National Food Hub Survey. Main supply chain risks faced by food hubs have been identified and ranked. In addition to the research findings, the project team will also develop a set of potential risk mitigation strategies to be made available to food hub managers and the Food Hub Management Professional Certificate Program. The Missouri team initiatedan analysis of food hub typology to better understand the types of strategies and structures that exist across the United States. The team obtained the dataset from the 2015 National Food Hubs Survey through the auspices of the Michigan State grant awardee. The data have been cleaned and significant work has been completed on transforming the raw data into more useful categorical data for completing hierarchical and nonhierarchical cluster analyses. These analyses will be completed prior to the project end date. Products from preliminary analyses are listed in this report. Subjective d. Curricular module.No new work completed for this objective. Objective 3. Development of teaching cases from research cases. No new work completed for this objective. Objective 4. Dissemenation of extension pubications and curriculum materials. Dissemenation materials are being created for distribution through theMSU Center for Regional Food Systems, the MIchigan Food Hub Learning and Knowledge Network, the Food Hub Management Professional Certificate Program, and the Food Hub Collaboration/National Good FoodNetwork.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2019 Citation: Avetisyan, T., and R.B. Ross. 2019. The Intersection of Social and Economic Value Creation in Social Entrepreneurship: A Comparative Case Study of Food Hubs. Journal of Food Distribution Research 50(1): 97-104.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2018 Citation: Avetisyan, T., and R. B. Ross. 2018. The Intersection of Social and Economic Value Creation in Social Entrepreneurship: A Comparative Case Study of Food Hubs. Paper presented at the National Direct Ag Marketing Summit & Food Distribution Research Society Annual Conference, Arlington, VA, September 15-18, 2018.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2019 Citation: Entsminger, Jason. The Organizational Species Concept: Development and Application of an Approach to Taxonomic Classification of Firms. Paper presented at the FOSSIL Conference, Stillwater, Oklahoma, August 2-3, 2019.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2019 Citation: Entsminger, Jason and Westgren, Randall. 2019. The Organizational Species: An Application of a New Approach to the Taxonomic Classification of Firms. Presented at the 14th Conference of the International Network for Economic Method, Helsinki, Finland, August 19-21, 2019.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2019 Citation: Entsminger, Jason. 2019. Coordinating Intermediaries in Alternative Food Systems: Comparing Cooperative Food Hubs to Other Modes of Governance and Ownership. Paper presented at the 2019 International Cooperative Alliance Research Conference, Berlin, Germany, August 21-23, 2019.


Progress 04/15/17 to 04/14/18

Outputs
Target Audience:The efforts associated with the project reached the following target audiences: participants of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Knowledge Network; food hub owners/managers in Michigan, the Washinton DC/Marylandregion, southeast Pennsylvannia, and the Nevada/Northern California corridor; academics (faculty and students); extension specialists; and food industry professionals. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The project provided outgoing training and professional development for one PhD student (MSU) and one MS student (Missouri). Funding from this project has provided the students the opportunity to develop greater proficiency in qualitative and quantlitative analysis, and interview and experimental survey design/implementation through one-on-one mentoring with project investigators, individual study, and hands-on experience. The project team has also participated in quarterly meetings of the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network where they have been able to gain expertise from food hub practitioners and collaborated with research professionals at NASS and the Census of Agricultre to gain expertise on the using the data from the National Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Updates and results from the project have been disseminated through presentations at academic and professional conferences, and via personal communication with food hub owners, managers and stakeholders at industry and research meetings. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?The following activities with be undertaken by the project team in the next reporting period: 1. The project team will continue to leverage itscollaboration with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems to access the 2013 and 2015 National Food Hub Surveys, we will distribute the Food Hub Risk Survey to the same set of food hubs and link our data in order to further test the two conceptual models (food hub structure and behavior) that have already been developed. The survey data will also be used to identify which risks are more likely to be faced by different types of food hubs. 2. The project team will further develop theset of teaching case studies based on previous research activites and addtional interviews with selected food hubs. These teaching case studies in particular will be made available to the Food Hub Management Certificate Program. 3. The project team will conduct further analysis of the National Local Food Marketing Practices Surveyto test for taxonomic differences between food hubs, farmers markets, and other direct and intermediated marketing channels. 4.Two additional research case studies will be completed from the Washington DC/Maryland area and a second in the NV/CA region. 5. A comparative analysis of the selected food hubs will be completed. This qualitative case study analysis will focus on the structure (organizational and network), behavior, and performance characteristics of food hubs across the sample population. 6.The project will continue to refine and further develop targeted curriculum and dissemination materials.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? This research project integrates research into the benefits of collective entrepreneurial action (particularly food hubs) by small and medium-sized enterprises (e.g. farms) with the development of educational modules on collective entrepreneurship in agriculture. Findings from this project, identify the mechamisms that support the collective action and identify the critical success factors that lead to superior performance of the enterprises engaged in the collective action. The project also develops teaching materials suitable for undergraduate/graduate courses in agricultural entrepreneurship, graudate courses in agribusiness management and research methods, and continuing education courses from programs such as the Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program and the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network. The specific accomplishments of the project during the past reporting period are listed by project objective #. Objective 1. Develop a curricular model on conceptual models of collective entrepreneurship for graduate and undergraduate students. The project teamhascompleted a set of readings and a theoretical framework for a graduate course in entrepreneurship or collective action. The theoretical framework draws equally from organizational economics and social ontology. We have also completed a three-hour slideshow and accompanying handout materials on collective entrepreneurship for undergraduate students in entrepreneurship and agricultural marketing classes. Objective 2. Complete an empirical analysis of eight collective entrepreneurship networks. Subobjective a. Qualitative analysis. The Missouri team has completed interviews and transcriptions of the principals in two food hubs -- one in the Nevada/Northern California region and one in southeast Pennsylvania. Two more will be completed in the final year of the project from the Washington DC/Maryland area and a second in the NV/CA region. Subobjective b. Quantitative analysis. The project team has obtained from the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems necessary access to the 2013 and 2015 National Food Hub Surveys to test the two conceptual models that have already been developed. These data will be more appropriate than network data to test the conceptual models of food hub structure and behavior. Data cleaning has been completed in advance of cluster analysis to be completed in year 4. The project team has also developed a Food Hub Risk Survey designed to identify the scope of different risks food hubs may face. Specifically, we ask how often an event occurs, how severe the impact is, and how detectable it is before it happens. Included in this survey is an incentivized measure of risk (including over losses) preferences. This effort also leverages the data already collected in the2013 and 2015 National Food Hub Surveys. Finally, the Missouri team obtained permission to access and use the data from the National Local Food Marketing Practices Survey from NASS and the Census of Agriculture to test for taxonomic differences between food hubs, farmers markets, and other direct and intermediated marketing channels. Initial data runs were completed and cluster analyses were designed in this project year. Analysis will be completed in Fall 2018. Objective 3. Development of teaching cases from research cases. No work completed on this objective. Objective 4. Dissemination of extension publications and curriculum materials. No work completed on this objective.

Publications

  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2017 Citation: Avetisyan, A., R. B. Ross, R. Shupp, R. E. Westgren. 2017. Food Hubs as a Case of Collective Entrepreneurship: Current Research and Directions. Paper presented at the Food Distribution Research Society Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, October 24th, 2017.


Progress 04/15/16 to 04/14/17

Outputs
Target Audience:The efforts associated with the project reached the following target audiences: participants of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Knowledge Network;food hub owners/managers in Michigan, Missouri, the Washinton DC region, and the San Francisco-Reno NV corridor;academics (faculty and students);extension specialists;and food industry professionals. Changes/Problems:The Missouri project team has had difficulty in identifying active food hubs in the State. Only one true food hub with ongoing receipts from farmers and deliveries to commercial clients existed in 2017. Other organizations that claimed to be food hubs were not operating in a manner consistent with accepted definitions. The team has searched for active food hubs in two other regions of the US to find credible cases to compare with the Michigan cases: the region surrounding Washington, DC -- MD, Va, and souther PA; and the San Francisco,CA -- Reno, NV corridor. The project plans to move forward with developing 4 case studies of food hubs from these new regions to compare with those in Michigan. Furthermore, due to the passing ofPIChaddad, some organizational changes have occurred. PI Westgrenhas taken on further responsibilities and will now lead efforts on the Missouri subaward. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The project has provided outgoing training and professional development for one PhD student and one MS student thus far. Funding from this project has provided the students the opportunity to develop greater proficiency in qualitative analysis, social network analysis, and interview design/implementation through courses, one-on-one mentoring with project investigators, individual study, and hands-on experience. The project team has also participated in quarterly meetings of the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network where they have been able to gain expertise from food hub practitioners. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Updates and results from the project have been disseminated through presentations at academic and professional conferences, and via personal communication with food hub owners, managers and stakeholders at industry and research meetings. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica} Increased efforts will be implemented to support the research activities of the Missouri subaward team. Second round interviews with VA/SF food hubs are scheduled for the 3rd/4th quarters of this year. Research plans in Michigan will continue as proposed. In particular, efforts will focus on the continued development of case study materials and program curriculum with respect to risk mitigation strategies and advice networks for food hub participants. The project team will also leverageits collaboration with the MSU Center forRegional Food Systems to access the 2013 and 2015 National Food Hub Surveys to test the two conceptual models that have already been developed.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica} This research project integrates research into the benefits of collective entrepreneurial action (particularly food hubs) by small and medium-sized enterprises (e.g. farms) with the development of educational modules on collective entrepreneurship in agriculture. Findings from this project, identify the mechamisms that support the collective action and identify the critical success factors that lead to superior performance of the enterprises engaged in the collective action. The project also develops teaching materials suitable for undergraduate/graduate courses in agricultural entrepreneurship, graudate courses in agribusiness management and research methods, and continuing education courses from programs such as the Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program and the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network. The specific accomplishments of the project during the past reporting period are listed by project objective #. 1. Development of Curricular Modules: as this objective will build off the work accomplished under objectives #2 and #3, progress towards this specific objective is scheduled to begin later in the project timeline. Nothing to report at this time. 2. Empirical analysis of eight collective entrepreneurship networks (i.e. food hubs): during the reporting period, the following activities were accomplished -- a) a semi-structured face-to-face interview was conducted with a key informant to identify major risks and risk mitigation strategies of food hubs, their producer-suppliers and customers (a report based on this interview was developed), b) a literature review on the role of advice networks and firm performance, c) data collection on the advice networks of the four selected MIchigan food hubs, d) 1st round interviews with principals in one Washington DC based food hub with initial recruitment contacts completed with three additional food hubs in the same region, and e) a literature review of organizational systematics completed to support the development of a taxomnomy of food hubs. Key findings of the project: based on the key informant interview which focused on therisks facing food hubs and potential risk mitigations strategies, the following types of risk were identified:a)Liability risks, b) food safety risks, c) quantity risk, d) recall risk, e) financial risk, and f) employee risk. 3. Development of Teaching Cases: based on the data collected in objective #2, revised drafts of teaching case studies have been developed for four Michigan-based food hubs. The cases provide a general description of each food hub, while specifically focusing on the organization's procurement and marketing strategies, funding models, and internal organization. Future revisions of these cases will include description of the risks faced the food hub and their use of risk mitigration strategies. Additonal teaching cases will also be developed for four Washington DC based food hubs. 4. Dissemination of publications and curriculum materials: the project team has disseminated the objectives and preliminary findings of this project to the target audiences through multiple avenues. A manuscript detailing our Conceptual Model of Food Hub Performance was presented at the annual meeting of the Regional Organizing Committee on Agribusiness (WERA-72) and at the World Conference of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association. In addition, preliminary findings have been shared through personal correspondance with participants of quarterly meetings of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network and with interview respondents.

Publications

  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Ross, R. B. "Collective Entrepreneurship and the Emergence of New Organizational Types in the US Food System." Mini-workshop on Research/outreach in regional and community food issues. Organized by the Center for Regional Food Systems. MSU campus. December 1, 2016.


Progress 04/15/15 to 04/14/16

Outputs
Target Audience:The efforts associated with the project reached the following target audiences: participants of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Knowledge Network, food hub owners/managers in Michigan and Missouri, academics (faculty and students), extension specialists, and food industry professionals. Changes/Problems:Progress related to the development of Missouri-based food hub case studieshas been delayed due to health issues and a less well organized food hub industry. Investigators plan to accelerated actitivities in the coming year (e.g. Michigan-based investigators plan to travel to Missouri and increase support activities). The project has also been challenged by low response rates from food hub buyers. Investigators plan to increaseefforts tobuild/leverage relationships with other food hub stakeholders and tofocus on schools and other institutional buyers. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The project has provided outgoing training and professional development for one PhD student thus far. Funding from this project has provided the student the opportunity to develop greater proficiency in qualitative analysis, social network analysis, and interview design/implementation through courses, one-on-one mentoring with project investigators, individual study,and hands-on experience. The project team has also participated in quarterly meetings of the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network where they have been able to gain expertise from food hub practitioners. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Updates and results from the project have been disseminated through presentations at the academic and professional conferences, and via personal communication with food owners, managers and stakeholders at industry and researchmeetings. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Increased efforts will be implemented to support the research activities in Missouri. Research plans in Michigan will continue as proposed. In particular, efforts will focuson the continued development of case study materials and therisk preferences and riskmitigation strategies for food hub participants.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? This research project integrates research into the benefits of collective entrepreneurial action (particularly food hubs) by small and medium-sized enterprises (e.g. farms)with the development of educational modules on collective entrepreneurship in agriculture. Findings from this project, identify the mechamisms that support the collective action and identify the critical success factors that lead to superior performance of the enterprises engaged in the collective action. The project also develops teaching materials suitable for undergraduate/graduate courses in agricultural entrepreneurship, graudate courses in agribusiness management and research methods, and continuing education courses from programs such as the Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program and the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network. The specific accomplishments of the project during the past reporting period are listed by project objective #. 1. Development of Curricular Modules: as this objective will build off the work accomplished under objectives #2 and #3, progress towards this specific objective is scheduled to begin later in the project timeline. Nothing to report at this time. 2. Empirical analysis of eight collective entrepreneurship networks (i.e. food hubs): during the reporting period, investigators conducted 5 semi-structured interviews with food hub managers in Michigan, 9 semi-structured telephone interviews with Michigan food hub supplier (i.e. growers), 8 semi-structured telephone interviews with Michigan food hub buyers (e.g. schools, restaurants, etc.), and participated in 3 Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network meetings.Analysis of this data has resulted in 4 cases studies (see objective #3), 1 preliminary comparative case study report, 1 preliminary report on the perceptions of food hub suppliers, and 1 preliminary report on the perceptions of food hub buyers. Key findingsof the project include: Food hubs have been strategic in their decisions to choose their target customers taking into account their own capacity to consistently deliver quality and quantity of products demanded by a particular customer along with other requirements or specifications. Food hubs that have established product consistency and infrastructure (e.g., refrigerated trucks, warehouses) have been able to grow rapidly and serve retailers such as large chain grocery stores. Scale has been a very important factor for food hubs to be able to work with retailers. Food hubs rely on a number of funding sources for establishment, survival and growth. Sources are generally related to the hub's organizational structure (i.e. non-profit hubs use grants, while for-profit food hubs are funded using private investments); 2) although non-profit food hubs may generate fee revenues, they are generally reliant on continued grant funding for capital and operating expenditures; 3) for-profit food hub investors are motivated by both return on investment and a commitment to local and regional food initiatives; 4) some food hubs establish both for-profit (operations) and non-profit (infrastructure) entities. Four criteria are critical of food hub customer buying decisions: 1) food hub organizational characteristics; 2) product characteristics; 3) social responsibility of customers; and 4) end-consumer demand. The customer-food hub relationships (i.e. network ties) are established through three primary methods: 1) third party facilitation (e.g., MSU Extension); 2) staff directly contacting customers; and 3) customers directly contacting food hubs. Food hub customers indicate that food hubs create value by: 1) saving time and resources through their ability to research, cultivate relationships with multiple producers, and aggregate and deliver multiple local food products, and 2) allowing customers to meet strategic marketing commitments (e.g. local food provision) Brands and/or labels play a minimal role in customer buying decisions. Customers rely on the following sources to get information: 1) weekly e-mails from food hubs (including product availability, price and sources of products), 2) food hub websites (featured stories on producers and/or bios), and 3) actual (or potential) farm visits, phone conversations with producers, and business cards. 3. Development of Teaching Cases: based on the data collected in objective #2,preliminary drafts of teaching case studies have been developed for 4 Michigan-based food hubs. The cases provide a general description of each food hub, while specificallyfocusing on the organization's procurement and marketing strategies, funding models, and internal organization. Future revisions of these cases will include description of therisks faced thefood huband their use of risk mitigration strategies. Additonal teaching cases will also be developed for 4 Missouri-based food hubs. Thesehubs have been identified and data collection has begun. 4. Dissemination of publications and curriculum materials: the project team has disseminated the objectives and preliminary findings of this project to the target audiences through multiple avenues. This project funded a MSc Thesis that developed a Conceptual Model of Food Hub Performance that was publicly defended and published. Versions of this model werealso presented at the annual meeting of the Regional Organizing Committee on Agribusiness(WERA-72) and havebeen accepted for presentation at the World Conference of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association. In addition, preliminary findings have been shared through personal correspondance with participants of quarterly meetings of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network and with interview respondents.

Publications

  • Type: Theses/Dissertations Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Avetisyan, T. (2015). A Conceptual Model of Food Hub Performance. MSc Thesis, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Avetisyan, T., and R. B. Ross. A Conceptual Model of Food Hub Performance. WERA-72 Annual Meeting, Western Education and Research Activities Committee on Agribusiness, Las Vegas, NV, June 22, 2015.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2016 Citation: Avetisyan, T., and R. B. Ross. A Conceptual Model of Food Hub Performance. 26th Annual International Food and Agribusiness Management Association World Conference and the 12th Wageningen International Conference on Chain and Network Management, June 23, 2016.


Progress 04/15/14 to 04/14/15

Outputs
Target Audience:The efforts associated with this project reached the following target audience(s): participants of the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Knowledge Network and academics (faculty and students) at Michigan State University. Changes/Problems:Issues related to the academic progress of the selected graduate assistant for the project created some delays in the initial stages of the project. However, this is not expected to create further problems or major changes to the project going forward. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The project has provided training and professional development for one PhD student thus far. Funding from this project has provided thestudent the opportunityto develop greater proficiency in qualitative analysis, social network analysis, organizational economics through courses, one-on-one mentoring with the project director, and individual study. The project team student has also participated inquarterly meetings of the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network where they havebeen able togain expertise from food hub practitioners. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? This research project integrates research into the benefits of collective entrepreneurial action (specificallyfood hubs) by small and medium-sized farms with the development of educational modules on collective entrepreneurship in agriculture. Findings from this project,identify the mechanisms that support the collective action and identify the critical success factors that lead to superior performance of the farms engaged in the collective action. The project also develops teaching materials suitable for undergraduate courses in agricultural entrepreneurship, graduate courses in agribusiness management and research methods, and continuing education courses from programs such as the Beginning Farmers and Rancher Develpment Program and the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network. The specific accomplishments of this project, to date, are listed below by project objective #: 1. Development of Curricular Modules: as this objective will build off ofwork accomplished under objectives #2 and #3,progress towards this specificobjective will not begin until later in the project timeline. Nothing to report at this time. 2. Empirical analysis of eight collective entrepreneurship networks: work to date have primary focused on this objective. The project team has been able to identify and informally secure the participation ofeight food hubs (four in each of Michigan and MIssouri)in the project. The project team has also conducted an extensive review of the food hub and organizational theory literature to develop a primarilyconceptual model of the determinents of food hub performance. The findings of this research indicate that much of research on food hubs to date hasfocused on the question of "what is a food hub and what do they do?". In other words, this work has provideddescriptive analyses and benchmark data related to food hubs. Our study extends this research to focus on "how food hubs work?". From our extensive literature on organizational theory, observation at meeting of the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network, and personal correspendence with food hub practitioners and experts, we propose that oganizational legitimancy, efficiency, innovation, and risk mitigation are all key drivers of value creation infood hubs and therefore affect the performance of food hubs (as well asthe perofrmance of small and medium-sized firms that engage with them). This analysis has resulted in the development of a interview protocol that will be used to elict further data from the eight selected food fubs in our study. 3. Development of Teaching Cases: this work will build off of the work started under objective #2 and thus is scheduled to formally begin later in the project timeline. The eight food hubs that will serve as the focus of the teaching cases have been selected and preliminarydescriptive data as been collected on several of thefood hubs. 4. Dissemination of publications andcurriculum materials: most of the progress towards this objective is scheduled to occur later in the project timeline. However, the project team has engaged with Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network to present the objectives of the project at a statewide meeting. Furthermore, at the beginning of the 2015-2016 reporting period, a Master's thesis will be defended and the conceptual model with be presented at the annual meeting of the Regional Organizing Committee of Agribusiness (WERA-72).

Publications

  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2014 Citation: Ross, R. B., and R. S. Shupp. Collective Entrepreneurship for Small and Medium-Sized Farms. Michigan Food Hub Conference, Grand Rapids, MI, March 5, 2014.