Though structural change in the agricultural sector has huge merits for economic development, the public opinion on structural change is quite negative. On the one hand, structural change does hardly lead to Pareto superior outcomes. On the other hand, there are concerns that structural change may go along with negative social externalities which may result from more industrialised forms of agriculture. This paper argues that addressing these concerns by agricultural economic research requires a systems perspective which goes far beyond traditional economic and reductionist perspectives. Conceptual approaches can for instance be found in the research on complex systems as well as in Luhmannian systems theory. Therefore, collaboration across disciplines is essential to develop a better theoretical understanding of structural change.