The implicit nature of advice on the intimate topic of financial management : an exploration of how the financial management advisory system shapes financial management advice in the dairy sector in Aotearoa : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Agriculture & Environment at Massey University, Manawatu, Aotearoa
Financial Management (FM) skills have been argued to be essential for the effective management of a farm in response to pressures like climatic and economic volatility. Internationally, agricultural advisors are considered important actors concerned with supporting farmers in different aspects of farm management. Agricultural advisors are recognised for their role in facilitating the application and use of new knowledge by farmers through advice.
Despite the recognized importance of financial management, limited research has looked at the role of advisory services in relation to the topic of financial management in the agricultural sector. This doctoral research takes a systemic view in studying FM advisory provisioning in the New Zealand dairy sector. In particular, this study explores three different areas of the FM advisory system in the New Zealand dairy sector and how they shape FM advisory provisioning. The first area studied is how interactions between farmers and FM advisors are shaped. The second area focuses on how interactions between FM advisors around a mutual client are shaped. Lastly, the third area studied is how FM advisors navigate the multiple accountabilities and demands placed on their role.
The findings of this research are informed by forty-seven semi-structured interviews with farmers, accountants, bankers, farm management consultants, specialist financial advisors and employees of the industry good organisation DairyNZ. This study follows a social constructivistic approach and was mainly data-driven; by an empirical social phenomenon.
This research explores and enriches the literature on agricultural advisory services, by exploring advisory services in relation to farmers’ FM. This study enriches this literature firstly by highlighting the influence of the sensitivity of the topic. The sensitivity of the topic and how this topic relates to farmer’s identity, influences whom farmers seek advice from and the nature of that advice. Moreover, the presence of an authority dimension in the relationship between advisor and farmer is shown in this research to shape the content and form of farmer-advisor interactions. Regarding advisor-advisor interactions, this research also provides deeper insights on what drives and shapes coordination among agricultural advisors. In particular, duty of care for a farmer and authority and advocacy are found to coordinate relationships and interactions between advisors. Lastly, this thesis contributes empirical insights to discussions about the relationship between formal advisory agendas of agricultural advisory activities on the one hand and on the other hand, the reality of agricultural advisory programs. In particular, it provides a detailed illustration of the complex institutional context placing contradictory demands and accountabilities on advisors and how these advisors navigate these in their everyday practices.