Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Comparison of the Function of Leader-Member Exchange in Two Neighboring Farmer Groups in a Sandy Land Area in Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Comparison of the Function of Leader-Member Exchange in Two Neighboring Farmer Groups in a Sandy Land Area in Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia

Article excerpt


Marginal land, unfertile soil, and an extreme climate are typical of a sandy land area. However, a group of farmers near the Indian Ocean of the Yogyakarta Province in Indonesia has successfully cultivated chili in such an area since 1985 using a new farming system. Two pioneering farmer groups in this sandy land area brought economic change to the farmers in this region by providing the technology of chili farming and collective marketing. This study aims to investigate the differences in the function of leader-member exchange in the farmer groups and its role in sustaining the farmer groups. This study focuses on the role of transformational leadership in functioning leader-member exchange, which is able to promote group satisfaction and commitment in order to improve group member behavior and group performance. We conclude that two different approaches sustain the performance of farmer groups. Farmer groups that have an official regular group meeting and groups that have transformational leadership by means of a leader-member exchange showed affected group performance. Otherwise, the performance of a farmer group that lacks a group meeting is built by members' individual motives, which are observed as an aggregation of group member behavior. Meanwhile, leader-member exchange affects commitment and becomes an importance aspect that influences group performance in both groups.

Keywords: farmer group, group member behavior, group performance, leader-member exchange, transformational leadership

1. Introduction

Since 1970, the Indonesian government has established farmer groups (FGs) to encourage farming development among farmers. Many programs have been established to enhance FG performance in order to strengthen the bargaining position of farmers by providing input subsidies and channeling capital. The program began with Bimbingan Massal: massive guidance, which was regulated with Presidential Decree No. 6/1969, until the regulatory Gabungan Kelompok Tani: FG union (GAPOKTAN) was created by Agriculture Minister Decree 93/Kpts/OT.210/3/1997. GAPOKTAN's goal was to unify FGs at the village level to be a union on a sub-district level and to encourage FGs to build a farm collective business.

Government effort has not resulted in improved performance of FGs for many reasons. Herman and Swastika (2011) demonstrated that some of the groups that were created by projects readily dissolved when the project was finished. Wahyuni (2003) declared that a group that was built based on the will of farmers in the community may face problems, such as the FG's board of directors being unable to lead. On the other hand, the FG leader is needed to sustain the FG by providing adequate access to credit, adequate access to cheap inputs, regulating group meetings, providing regular information about group meeting, direct marketing of products, organization of product price discrimination (Ofuoku & Agbamu, 2013), and taking risks for the sake of the FG (Yunasaf, 2007). Moreover, a farmers' forum, which was held in Rome, Italy in 2010, highlighted the importance of leadership roles in farmer organization; leaders are important in order to reach goals of reducing poverty in developing countries (IFAD, 2010).

Much of the research devoted to FGs has examined the power of leadership to enhance the performance of FGs. Many FG leaders drive the group only for outcome purposes (transactional obligations) (Ofuoku & Agbamu, 2013) without considering spreading the group vision and values, norms, and motivations. Meanwhile, norm and legitimate consensus are principles for further developing FGs (Agriculture Minister Decree 273/Kpts/Ot.160/4/2007).

Distinct from transactional leadership, which only focuses on outcome, another paradigm of leadership, namely transformational leadership, should be introduced for leaders of FGs. This process is particularly relevant in communities that are based on a collective society (Bass, 1997). …

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