Title Interactive Strategic Management Methodology for improvement of agricultural entrepreneurship in Central-Eastern Europe
Project Number 2011-1-PL1-LEO05-19891
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
The ISM-project intends to transfer a successful and innovative vocational training tool to help professionals dealing with entrepreneurship and strategic management in agriculture. This applies to agricultural advisory sector, the vocational teaching environment and farmers.
Project used Interactive strategic management approach (ISM tool and method) of LEI Wageningen UR. This training method aims to help entrepreneurs in making strategic decisions. It comprises the formulation of a goal, an analysis of the entrepreneurial competences, enterprise performance and environment, formulation of a strategy and an action plan. The Interactive Strategic Management method and the ISM-tool were applied and adjusted in three Central and Eastern European countries: Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland where such tools were not wide-spread.
The European agricultural sector has experienced numerous changes in the last decade. Developments in the new EU member states have been even more significant – first because of the transition into the market economy after the fall of the communist regime, and second because of the accession to the EU. In such circumstances the ability to apply long term decisions and entrepreneurial skills are key factors for success. Strategic thinking, however, is less present in the agricultural firms, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Farmers are mainly focused on day by day management, but to improve profitability and respect a dynamically changing environment, long term goals and strategies become important. Therefore, training in entrepreneurial behavior and decision making, as well as tools to support such trainings, are essential. In this project the Interactive Strategic Management method and the ISM-tool were made applicable to three Central and Eastern European countries: Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland.
The main aims of this project are:
• To fulfil the need for support on strategy planning to further develop the farm business and to become competitive;
• To improve the competency and knowledge of consultants/advisors and teachers in strategic management and entrepreneurship; they transfer the know-how to agricultural entrepreneurs and vocational students;
• To improve entrepreneurship of the participating dairy farmers in order to become more aware of their own situation; the same for future plans of vocational agricultural students;
• To ensure the sustainability of the training program with a constant monitoring and evaluation process; this allows the introduction of the ISM tool and accompanying guidelines into consultancy and education in a sustainable way.
The ISM project resulted in strengthening the capacity of teachers and extension workers to help articulate strategies and foster development paths. This also helped to communicate more easily certain strategic choices with the external environment.
European agricultural sector has experienced a huge change in the last decade. Agricultural production has been significantly influenced by the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform which is expected to change the allocation of on- and off-farm resources, as payments became independent from production and agricultural policy has shifted from a production orientation to more decoupled forms of support. Apart from these policy shifts, farmers also face changing consumer habits, preferences and demands and enhanced requirements concerning the environment, animal welfare and product safety. Market and price fluctuations are also important. The New Member Sates has experienced this changes much stronger then the “old” EU countries – first because of the transition into the market economy after the fall of the communist regime in the 1990s and second, because of the accession to the EU, which introduced agriculture to dynamics and effects of the CAP. Being competitive and surviving in such changing environment became the huge challenge for farmers. In such circumstances the ability to take up long term decisions and entrepreneurship skills seems to be a key factors for success. Farmers are mainly focused on the day by day management, while to improve profitability and respect dynamically changing environment, they should look more for the long term strategy. Therefore training about entrepreneurial behaviour and decision making, as well as tools to support such trainings, are essential. However, such tools are not wide-spread. LEI Wageningen UR in the Netherlands has developed a method and training program to help farmers in their strategic decision making process and to help advisors to improve their capacity to counsel in these processes. The method is called Interactive Strategic Management (ISM). The major reasons supporting the initiative are: the need for development of the agricultural consultancy and vocational education in the sphere of strategic management; the need to improve entrepreneurial abilities of farmers and vocational students, and the need of training tools supporting such development.
The ISM project is aiming to introduce instruments to help professionals dealing with entrepreneurship and strategic management development. This applies to personnel of the advisory/consultancy sector and the vocational teaching environment. Also the second target group, the farmers themselves will be affected because they will participate in ISM sessions which will be facilitated by the new trained professionals mentioned above.
In order to achieve the above mentioned aims the consortium set four objectives as follows:
• As first objective, the consortium is aiming to fulfil the need for support on strategy planning to further develop the farm business and to become or remain competitive in the agricultural sector.
• As second objective, the consortium is aiming to improve the competencies, skills and knowledge of advisors and teachers, who transfer the competences to agricultural entrepreneurs and vocational students. Moreover, this project increases the awareness of the persons who are currently working in agriculture advisory services and vocational education about the importance of life long learning activities and on-going improvement of their competencies on entrepreneurship and strategic management.
• A third objective is to improve strategic management and entrepreneurship of the participating dairy farmers in order that they become more aware of their own situation which may help them to keep their farm viable in an increasingly complex environment.
• The fourth objective puts emphasis on ensuring the sustainability of the transferred training, with a constant monitoring and evaluation process. This allows the introduction of the ISM tool and accompanying guidelines into consultancy and education in the participating countries in a sustainable way.
The ISM-project intended to transfer a successful and innovative vocational training tool in the field of long term decision making from LEI Wageningen UR to the Consulting services, Cattle Associations and to vocational education in Poland, Lithuania and Slovenia. In order to achieve a successful adaptation in a different environment, the materials and methodology were adapted to the local circumstances in the first phase of the project. This was followed by the train the trainer sessions aiming to educate the local facilitators, who come from the participating extension/consulting services and from the universities. After this, trainings in the field took place with various groups of dairy farmers. The teachers and advisors trained during the train the trainer phase were the facilitators of these field sessions. Special emphasis was put on a monitoring and evaluation of these ISM sessions which alloed proper analysis of the quality and effects of the tools in use, and which enabled a final adaptation to the needs of the various target groups involved. The structure of the project ensured a sustainable and continued use of the methods and tools discussed in this project in the countries involved. The international approach chosen guarantees the development of a network supporting the know-how relating to strategic management.
In the project, we used the Interactive strategic management approach (ISM) of LEI Wageningen UR. This training method aims to help entrepreneurs in making strategic decisions. ISM is a training method related to principles of strategic management, entrepreneurship and decision making. The learning cycle of Kolb is part of it. It comprises the formulation of a goal, an analysis of the entrepreneurial competences, enterprise performance and environment, formulation of a strategy and an action plan.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities
material for open learning
program or curricula
List of main products of a project:
Result number 1. Interactive Strategic Management Tool - Trial version
Result number 2. ISM Handbook "Enterpreneurship with vision - interactive strategic management"
Result number 3. Facilitator guidelines booklet.
Result number 4. Training and background materials for participants of training courses
Result number 5. Internal report about "Analysis of outcome strategies and evaluation of the ISM program"
Result number 6 Interactive Strategic Management Tool in final version improved and adjusted
Result number 7 BOOK “Supporting farmers in making strategic choices" in 4 languages - PL, LT, SL, ENG
Result number 8 EAAP BOOK – Cattle Husbandry in Eastern Europe and China: structures, development paths and optimization.