For years the major management concern of farm managers was farm production. In the 1970s and 1980s, the importance of finance and marketing emerged as two additional critical success factors in production agriculture. A fourth management area of growing importance to successful farming is managing labor (Thomas and Erven 1989). Total employment in farming has been steadily decreasing to less than 4% of Canada's labor force in 1984 from close to 20% in 1950 (Agriculture Canada 1984). However, the labor remaining in agriculture has been changing structure, with a greater proportion of hired labor. Hired labor accounted for 30% of total hours of Canadian agricultural labor in 1983, up from 18% in 1961 (Statistics Canada 1981, 1971). A similar situation exists in U.S. agriculture. The increasing proportion of hired labor in agriculture indicates a need for more research and extension activities in labor issues, but the importance of personnel management is not universally recognized in our discipline. Most studies of agricultural labor have been on agricultural versus nonagricultural wage rates (Tweeten and Brinkman 1976), supply of seasonal labor (Torok and Huffman 1986), or labor productivity in the aggregate (Polopolus 1986). A recent survey of introductory farm management course syllabi and commonly used farm management textbooks found that, whereas 70% of the texts had a chapter on labor, only 35% of the syllabi listed labor as a subject explicitly discussed (Howard and Harling 1988). The purpose of this paper is to present some common human resource management (HRM) theories. The theories presented are not exhaustive, but they present a useful framework for analyzing HRM practices. A brief review of HRM studies in agriculture is also presented. A summary and recommendations for future research conclude the paper.


Agribusiness | Agricultural and Resource Economics | Business



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