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International Association on Work in Agriculture

A new framework to analyze changes in work organization for permanent employees on livestock farms

ASD journal
Special issue from Agronomy for Sustainable Development coordinated by IAWA members

The importance of a hired workforce for the competitiveness of livestock farms emerges in a context of a decreasing family workforce and increasing farm size. Farmers’ need for a regular workforce to perform labor-intensive tasks can conflict with the attractiveness of jobs and high rates of turnover among farm employees. Within farmers’ strategies to attract and retain employees, little attention has been given to understand the role of work changes over time during the careers of employees on farms. We thus developed a framework to understand how employees’ work organization on farms change over time since recruitment. Key concepts from human resource management and organizational change are the theoretical guidelines used to shape the framework. This conceptual base indicates what needs to be considered to understand changes in employees’ work. Empirical data were used to transform the concepts into practical variables to analyze changes in employees’ work. We interviewed 14 employees and 8 farmers (their employers) on dairy farms and collected data on work organization and changes over time, focusing on tasks performed by employees since recruitment, team composition, and farm history. The framework is composed of 8 variables that describe how work evolves according to changes in task assignments, changes in the way work is organized (versatility vs. specialization), and the level of autonomy afforded to workers. It also considers what drives these evolutions and the rhythm of evolution over time. The framework can be used by researchers to better understand trade-offs between labor management and farm changes over time. This is a new approach for analyzing work organization on livestock farms considering changes in work from the perspective of employees.

Complete paper available here

Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019