Understanding Collaboration Among Farmers and Farmers' Market Managers in Southeast Michigan (USA)
The growth in local food systems has resulted in many benefits for communities. In addition to meeting growing consumer demand, local food systems make significant positive contributions to economies, communities, and the natural environment. However, most local food systems are grassroots efforts and rely on stakeholders motivated to collaborate with each other in order to be successful. Most of the parties involved in these collaborations have very limited resources and therefore must choose carefully the collaborative initiatives in which they will invest their time and money. Too frequently collaborative initiatives are doomed to failure because the required players lack the motivation to participate at levels needed for success. Such failures can damage the overall culture of collaboration within a region.
This study aims to address the lack of research into local food system collaboration by exploring the suitability of expectancy theory to understand the factors that motivate farmers and farmers' market managers to collaborate in southeast Michigan. A survey instrument was distributed to groups of farmers and farmers' market managers to measure their beliefs about collaboration's ability to generate positive outcomes as well as each group's perceived value of those outcomes. Comparisons were made between the two groups to better understand the types of collaborative initiatives that would serve the needs of both groups, as well as the initiatives that generate differing levels of motivation within each group. Results show that farmers and farmers' market managers are motivated to collaborate differently. Implications are provided for local food system players, policy-makers, and researchers.
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