Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation

Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation

Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation

Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation


In a world facing chronic and increasing shortages in food crops and natural resources, visionary leadership in agriculture becomes more and more critical for building and maintaining a sustainable future. It is of paramount importance that the dynamic and challenging evolution in agriculture over the last century and a half be met today with imaginative leadership in virtually all aspects of activities and organizations involved.

Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation focuses on key characteristics and elements of leadership. Using case studies from research, industry, education, administration, and extension services, the authors present real-world circumstances ranging from natural disasters to major restructuring that demanded problem solving, new initiatives, consensus, and organizational commitment. Drawing on their own experiences and covering topics as diverse as closing facilities, mounting a national research initiative, reinventing a major corporation, and dealing with invasive termites, the studies contain examples of both good and bad outcomes and tie back to the stated leadership principles and qualities.


Preface vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Leadership in the Agricultural Environment 1

Character: The Bedrock of Leaders and Leadership 13

Case Studies--How Leadership Can Make a Difference 37

1. Facing Down Nature: How a Regional Lab Survived Hurricane Katrina (Addressing Physical Crises) 38

2. Exerting Ag Leadership in Distributed Geographic Locations (Coordinating Dispersed Units within One Organization) 49

3. Closing and Relocating Facilities and Terminating Programs (Leadership Challenges with Organizational Restructuring) 59

4. National Research Initiative: Creating a Shared Leadership Vision (Bringing about a New Solution) 73

5. Battling Formosan Subterranean Termites (Forging a New Approach) 81

6. Gathering of the Agricultural Clan (Bringing Leaders Together without Central Authority) 90

7. Monsanto: How One Company Saw the Future and Transformed to Seize It (Leadership's Role in a Significant Change) 96

8. Enhancing Leadership in the State Agricultural Experiment Stations (Cultivating New Leadership) 123

9. Development of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) (Enhancing a Better Understanding of Agricultural Science and Technology) 133

Lessons Learned from Case Studies 145

Making Leadership Work for You 152

Appendixes: How Does the Scientific Agricultural System Work? 161

Appendix A. The Land-Grant System: A Key to America's Dream? How Does It Function? 161

Appendix B. The USDA's Agricultural Research Service: Focus on National and International Issues 165

Appendix C. The Industrial Approach to Research: Diverse Foci Linked to Industrial Economic Effects 167

Notes 171

Bibliography 173

About the Authors 177

Index 179

For more information, please visit www.leadershipinagriculture.com.


Of all the requirements for maintaining life, the primary one for all living things is an adequate supply of food. Without it, starvation and death occur. the creation and growth of a food supply brought about by successful agriculture has remained fundamental throughout human history in spite of drought, floods, economic depressions, wars, and other challenges. Without leadership, these crises can indeed be overwhelming to humankind. Within less than a century, the agricultural system in developed countries—by employing sound science and technology and utilizing visionary leadership—has been able to yield a plentiful food supply for much of humanity and promises to do so for many years to come. Unfortunately, this is in contrast to the lack of adequate food in some parts of the world, which has been caused by poor political decisions or food-distribution mechanisms.

The focus of this book is the issue of leadership needed to ensure the continued adequate supply of food for humans, feed for livestock and companion animals, fiber for homes and clothes, and fuel and forestry necessary to meet human needs. the leadership issues discussed involve new solutions through research, production organizations, government efforts, universities as a knowledge base, and industrial distribution of food in a worldwide economy. the book identifies and proposes approaches for dealing with gaps in perspectives of leadership in the food and agriculture system. It focuses on the key characteristics and elements of leadership. It draws on case studies to illustrate the following:

How individual and group leadership produced outcomes of

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