Transformative change in contemporary Australian agriculture

Katrina Sinclair

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    181 Downloads (Pure)


    Agriculture in developed countries is facing significant challenges including
    providing sufficient food to feed an increasing global population, the
    uncertainty surrounding the impact of climate change and the reduced
    access to, and degradation of, the resource base supporting agriculture. In
    meeting these pressing challenges it may be necessary, in some cases, to
    implement a deliberate transformative change for sustainability. However, the
    pathway required to enable agricultural industries and their producers in
    developed countries to successfully undertake a deliberate transformative
    change is not understood.

    This thesis contributes to an understanding of the processes and outcomes
    from a transformative change by exploring the deliberate attempt by
    governments to restructure the Australian dairy industry with the intention of
    creating a more efficient, competitive and productive industry. Two regional
    dairy industries, the Subtropical industry located along the east coast of
    northern Australia and the Murray industry located along the Murray River in
    southern Australia, identified as social-ecological systems were chosen as
    embedded cases to explore the nature and extent of the changes that took
    place in these dairy industries following deregulation of the Australian dairy
    market. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with dairy producers,
    their service providers, and industry and government staff in the Subtropical
    and Murray industries. The interview transcription data was organised around
    codes identifying the nature and extent of the changes in the two dairy
    industries following deregulation as well as emerging themes such as power
    and social relationships. The data analysis was also used to explore the
    usefulness of resilience thinking transition conceptual frameworks as lenses
    to understand the processes and outcomes of change that these dairy
    industries experienced post-deregulation.

    This research established that the Subtropical dairy industry experienced
    profound change following deregulation. The social and power relationships
    between actors were substantially altered, and the structure and practices of
    the industry’s components: the production system, supply chain, industry
    organisation and the provision of services are considerably different. As a
    result of the nature and extent of these changes the Subtropical industry is
    fundamentally different in the way it functions. It has a new identity based on
    different assumptions which suggests that this industry has been
    transformed. Post-deregulation, the Murray industry also experienced change
    although this is attributed to a large extent to its need to respond to an
    unexpected and severe but temporary loss in access to water associated
    with the Millennium drought. With the breaking of the drought the Murray
    industry appears to have reverted back to many of its pre-deregulation
    structures and management practices, and to continue the existing social
    relationships between actors.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Curtis, Allan, Co-Supervisor
    • Mendham, Emily, Co-Supervisor
    • Mitchell, Michael, Co-Supervisor
    Award date01 Oct 2014
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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