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Abstract

Survey information in most countries shows very clearly that farmers achieve a wide range of profitability levels. Some of the variation will be due to farmers having different goals and objectives, but a significant proportion will also be due to variations in managerial skill. If even modest skill improvements can be achieved the resource efficiency payoff will be significant and at little cost relative to many physical research programmes - this goal is worth seeking. Managerial skill improvement has received little attention in the past. Standard teaching methods can probably help to a certain extent, but many skills may be deeply imbedded thus requiring different methods. Evidence from cognitive therapy papers suggests basic traits can be modified, so why not managerial attributes similarly? This paper reviews the work on cognition and personality that may be helpful, and also considers the competencies that constitute the components of good management. It is clear from the work on the psychology of decision making and judgement that many biases in a range of decision areas are common. The opportunity for exploring ways of removing these biases and improving managerial ability would seem to be ripe for the picking. This will involve developing psychometric tests for each competency and the development of competency enhancement programmes. The work on personality assessment and change will be reviewed to assess whether the same principles can be used in the management area. The paper contains more questions than answers, but will provide considerable food for thought.

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