Considering the farm workforce as part of farmers' innovative behaviour : A key factor in inclusive on-farm processes of technology and practice adoption

Cofre-Bravo, Gabriela; Engler, Alejandra; Klerkx, Laurens; Leiva-Bianchi, Marcelo; Adasme-Berrios, Cristian; Caceres, Cristian


The literature identifies multiple factors that can affect the adoption of new technologies and practices in agriculture to support farm innovation, such as farmers' socio-economic characteristics and the characteristics of the promoted technology, among others. It has, however, scarcely contemplated the role of the farm workforce in technology and practice adoption. The objective of this study is (i) to describe innovative behaviour and its relation with farmers' ability to collaborate with the workforce in the adoption process; and (ii) to associate this description with the level of adoption of certain technologies and practices. Structural equation modelling (bifactor model) was used to identify the components of innovative behaviour, and correlation analysis was used to determine the relationship between these components and adoption level. The results show that relevant components of innovative behaviour are farmers' ability to generate and implement new ideas, to extend their networks and to involve the workforce in the adoption process. Worker involvement proved to be a key factor within the definition of farmers' innovative behaviour, which additionally shows a positive and significant correlation with the level of adoption of technologies and practices. A main theoretical implication is that research on technology and practice adoption needs to move beyond looking at single owner-managers of (family) farms and incorporate workers into the unit of analysis. The practical and policy implications are that innovation support programmes should give more attention to workforce management, training and skills of owner-managers as transformative and inclusive leaders, as these are essential for technology and practice adoption, and more broadly for innovation capacity.