LEADERSHIP EXPECTATIONS AND PERCEPTIONS
OF THE FLORIDA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
HANNAH S. F. CARTER
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Hannah S. F. Carter
Dedicated to Michael Carl Linzmayer,
whose support and encouragement made it possible.
This dissertation would have not become a reality if it were not for an
extraordinary individual, Dr. Rick Rudd, who signed on for a second tour as my advisor.
I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with Dr. Rudd, who made my graduate school
experience truly enjoyable and I will be forever grateful for his mentorship, friendship,
and encouragement. I would like to thank the members of my advisory committee, Drs.
Rick Rudd, Howard Ladewig, Burl Long, Nick Place, and Eugene Trotter for their
contributions and guidance, which made this a study that I am very proud of.
This process was made infinitely better with the presence of a special individual
who provided constant support, encouragement and motivation that has made my life all
the better, even during the dissertation process. Words cannot express my thanks to
Mike, for always telling me that "You can do it," for providing me rewards for my
accomplishments along the way and a reprieve from the process when necessary, and for
having a pizza delivered late one night which meant more to me then he will ever know.
The past year and half, during this whole dissertation process, has been the happiest time
of my life, thank you.
This study would not have become a reality without Pat Cockrell and the Florida
Farm Bureau Federation. I would like to especially thank Mr. Carl Loop, Jr., Scottie
Butler, Rod Hemphill, and Pat Cockrell for their assistance and support throughout this
process. I enjoyed working with these individuals and all members of the Florida Farm
Bureau Federation who participated in this study immensely.
My sister, Alex, deserves my heartfelt thanks for again believing in me and
getting me to Florida in the first place. If I could have anyone in my cheering section, it
would be my sister as she truly makes me believe that I am capable of anything that I set
my mind too and is a source of inspiration to me. I would like to thank the rest of the
members of my family for having full faith that I would get this done and for their
support as I enter this new phase of my life.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the following individuals: Steve
Johnson, who apparently saw my potential when I could not even fathom it; Amy
Sullivan for her continued friendship and for going through this process together as
misery truly does love company; Bob Watts, for his far away emails full of advice and for
providing me an incentive to get this degree as I look forward to our future leadership
collaborations and our eventual takeover of the world! Janice Barner for going above and
beyond the call of duty in the office, for keeping things going while I was finishing, for
tying up her printer, and for the constant support that she provided me; Maureen, Jack,
and Megan Noll for opening their hearts and home to me and making me feel like I have
family here in Florida. I appreciate them all so much and the feeling of "family" that
they have provided me.
I have many other friends and family members who have seen me through the
good times and the bad and who have added so much to my life. I am thankful for them
and grateful for them being in my life. Though they will not realize it, Rosie, Finnegan,
and Lucky deserve a pat for reminding me each day what unconditional love is and how
fortunate I am to be in their company as they make my life all that much better.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .......................................................................... iv
1 INTRODUCTION ...........................................................................
Background of the Study ...................................................................9
Problem Statement .............................................................................11
Objectives of the Study ........................................................................13
Significance of the Study ............................................................. ...13
Overview of Methodology .....................................................................14
Delimitations of the Study .....................................................................16
Definitions of Key Terms......................................................................16
C onclusions....................................................................................... 17
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ............................................ .............. 18
History of Farm Bureau and Agricultural Organizations ................................ 19
Farm Bureau as a Political Interest Group ..................................................26
Grassroots Organizations ......................................................................30
Motivations of Volunteers.....................................................................33
Organizational Leadership .....................................................................45
Social Capital ..............................................................................57
Agricultural Leadership .......................................................................60
3 METHODS ................................................................................. 66
Research Design ............................................................................67
Research Context ...........................................................................72
Research Participants .........................................................................72
Instruments Used in Data Collection ........................................................ 75
Data Analysis ................................................................................78
Sum m ary ...................................................................................... ...81
4 R E SU LT S ........................................................................................82
Objective 1 ......................................... .........................................83
Objective 2 .................................................................................. 94
Objective 3 .................................................................................103
Objective 4 .................................................................................118
Objective 5 ......................................................................................129
Summary ........................................................ ....................137
5 SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION ........................................................139
Summary of the Study ...................................................................... ... 139
Findings ......................................... .............................................144
Conclusions .......................................................................... ........149
Suggestions for Further Research ...........................................................167
A LETTER TO FLORIDA FARM BUREAU OFFICIALS ................................171
B SECOND LETTER TO FLORIDA FARM BUREAU OFFICIALS ...................172
C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR FLORIDA FARM BUREAU OFFICIALS ......173
D SURVEY FOR COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ....................................... 174
E SURVEY FOR ACTIVE MEMBERS .....................................................181
F FIRST LETTER TO ACTIVE MEMBERS ................................................188
G SECOND LETTER TO ACTIVE MEMBERS .........................................189
H POSTCARD TO ACTIVE MEMBERS ................................................191
I FOURTH LETTER TO ACTIVE MEMBERS ...........................................192
J FIRST LETTER TO COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ..................................193
K SECOND LETTER TO COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ..............................194
L POSTCARD TO COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ......................................196
M FOURTH LETTER TO COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ..............................197
REFERENCE LIST .........................................................................198
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...................................................................209
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
LEADERSHIP EXPECTATIONS AND PERCEPTIONS
OF THE FLORIDA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Hannah S. F. Carter
Chair: Rick Rudd
Major Department: Agricultural Education and Communication
The purpose of this study was to determine the leadership expectations and
perceptions of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. This study was conducted in three
parts. The first part was composed of qualitative interviews with seven officials of the
Florida Farm Bureau Federation; questions were developed to determine the expectations
of state officials of county board members and the necessary leadership skills that county
Farm Bureau board members should possess.
The second part of the study was a quantitative instrument, which was developed
from the competencies that came from the first phase of the study. A sample of 280
county Farm Bureau members were given this instrument, which was comprised of four
theme areas: leadership, political process, effective boards, and knowledge of Farm
Bureau, with a total of 66 competencies. Participants were asked to rate how important
each competency was and how proficient it was using a seven point Likert scale. A
demographic information section was also included at the end of this instrument.
The third phase of the study examined why Farm Bureau members may or may
not participate in leadership roles, such as serving on their local county Farm Bureau
board. A quantitative instrument was developed and included three parts: a motivation
sources inventory, a semantic differential scale on volunteering, and a Likert scale, which
measured perceptions of serving on county boards. This instrument also had a
demographic information section at the end. The instrument was sent to a random
sample of 420 active Farm Bureau members.
From the results of the county board member instrument, it was found that the
largest "gap" between importance and proficiency competencies was in the political
process area. Active board members were found to be motivated by internal self-concept
factors and rated the evaluative factors of volunteering the highest. This study found that
the best model for explaining why Farm Bureau members chose to participate in
leadership roles explained 36% of the variance and included the independent variables:
volunteering evaluative factor, volunteering activity factor, number of Farm Bureau
events attended, member of other youth development organizations and participation in
leadership development programs.
Rural communities remain a source of identity for many people. Most of the rural
localities established in the last century remain today, and their residents continue to
invest in them with social value, despite changing economic and social relationships
(Goudy & Ryan, 1982). Hobbs (1995) described the role of agriculture in communities
The special role of agriculture in the overall development of U.S. rural and
community life is not simply attributable to production from the land. The actual
form of production (large numbers of small farmers owning and operating their
own land) in much of rural America contributed most to the institutions and
organizations established to support agriculture and rural life. Despite local
differences in organization, most rural people shared dependence on agriculture,
the methods by which it was practiced, and the ideologies that surrounded it. This
homogeneity of farmers' interests and practices helped reinforce the social
foundations of the settlements. (p. 377)
After the Civil War, the growth of industrialization generated new markets for
agricultural production, and the completion of railroads linked agricultural producers
with the external markets. An early consequence of increased market dependency was
the emergence of farmer's movements that provided the foundation for what would
become general farm organizations. Agriculture led the way in breaking from local
institutional constraints and connecting with the institutions of the larger society
(Mooney & Majka, 1995).
During the late 1800s, the Grange and the Farmer's Alliances were two of the
prominent agricultural movements of the time. The Grange was originally established as
a social and educational organization for farmers (National Grange of the Order of
Patrons of Husbandry [NGOPH], 2004). The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) are two organizations which originated in the
period from 1900 to 1920 and are still active today. These two organizations, along with
the Grange, were general farm organizations because their focus is a broad-based
program of education, improving farm production and lobbying for favorable legislation
to farmers. All three have an organizational structure from the local level to the state and
national organization (NGOPH, 2004; NFU, 2003; AFBF, 2003).
These organizations are important in history because their programs generally
were devoted to improving the well being of farmers and were initially mechanisms for
representing rural interests nationally. They were instrumental in lobbying for rural mail
delivery, rural electrification, and improvement in rural roads and highways, innovations
that benefited both farmers and town residents (Hobbs, 1995).
The AFBF is an organization of over five million members across the United
States (AFBF, 2003). Farm Bureaus can be found in every state in the country. The
Florida Farm Bureau Federation (FFBF) has a membership of 151,645 and county Farm
Bureaus in 61 out of 67 counties (FFBF, 2003). In some instances a "county" Farm
Bureau may actually be made up of two counties and in another instance there are two
county Farm Bureaus in one county because of local geography (P. Cockrell, personal
communication, September 10, 2002).
Farm Bureau is
An independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization governed by and
representing farm and ranch families united for the purpose of
analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational
improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement and, thereby, to
promote the national well being. Farm Bureau is local, county, state, national,
and international in its scope and influence and is non-partisan, non-sectarian and
non-secret in character (AFBF, 2003, para. 2).
The strength of Farm Bureau from the county to the national level begins at the
grassroots with individual members who decide to become active and take on leadership
roles in the organization. In the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., all that seems to
matter are the interests of the powerful agribusiness organizations that speak for large
producers and maybe the environmental groups that have an upper-middle class
constituency. While people in farming communities are small in numbers, they are a
significant force within their districts and states and should not be discounted
In the past ten years, agriculture and farming have been dramatically restructured
(Purdy, 1999). Hassebrook (1999) states that the family farm is dying and farm
ownership is being concentrated into fewer hands. As the agricultural industry has
become more concentrated, decision-making concerning agriculture has shifted from the
independent producers to those in influential positions at the top of large agribusiness
organizations (Swenson, 1999).
Present trends indicate that the family farm as the nucleus of United States
agriculture is slipping away. There is a movement toward a dual agriculture. At
one extreme are many small farms, most of them part-time. Fifty percent of all
farms, as defined by the U.S. census, market only about three percent of all farm
products. Most of these farmers depend on non-farm income for their living.
They are not easily dislodged from farming (Breimyer & Frederick, 1999,
As specialized commodity producers have grown in both the size and proportion
of total agricultural production and as rural economies have diversified, another kind of
"farmer" has become important. These are "part-time" farmers, farmers who are
employed full-time off the farm or have other sources of income larger than farm income
(Coughenour & Wimberley, 1982).
Part-time farmers generally do not identify farming as their principal occupation.
Their occupations and interests are diverse and they often do not share the interests of
commercial agricultural. Commodity producers are more likely to view farming as "a
business," whereas the choice to farm part-time along with working at another occupation
is more often based on a desire to practice agrarian values. The growth of part-time
farms has come at the expense of the middle group of "family farms," which is
diminishing but which has long been regarded as epitomizing the agrarian values of the
United States. Although the number of middle-sized family farms is decreasing, the
impression of those farms as typical continues to prevail, especially in political debate
over farm programs (Hobbs, 1995).
The widespread restructuring of the agricultural industry has also taken a heavy
toll on those rural communities that depend on a healthy farm income to survive and
thrive. A system of economically viable, midsize, owner-operated family farms
contributes more to communities than systems characterized by inequality and large
numbers of farm laborers with below average incomes and little ownership or control of
productive assets (Hassebrook, 1999, p. 55). Historically, locally owned businesses tied
to agriculture often provided a good source of jobs and revenue for rural areas, and
reinvested profits in their community, creating a multiplier effect in which funds would
exchange hands several times. In contrast, multinational agricultural corporations
typically take their profits out of the communities in which they were earned.
Communities suffer not only financially, but also in terms of the quality of education,
health care, and other essential services (Swenson, 1999). Christenson and Robinson
(1989) state that "since the early '80's, communities, especially rural communities have
confronted a social, economic, political, and demographic environment substantively
different from that of the first part of the century" (p. 197).
The agricultural sector of America is changing. In the 2002 Census of
Agriculture, there were 2.13 million farms in the United States, up 0.1% from 2001. The
increase in farms occurred primarily in agricultural operations with $1,000 to $9,999 a
year in sales. The total land in farms in 2002 was 939.5 million acres, which increased
170,000 acres from 2001. A farm is defined as any place from which $1000 or more of
agricultural products were produced and sold during the year (United States Department
of Agriculture [USDA], 2004).
The average farm size in the United States is 441 acres. The largest number of
farms 658,804 are those, which are 50 to 179 acres in size (USDA, 2004). Figure 1-1
represents the distribution of farm size (in acres) in the United States.
1 to9 10to 50 to 180to 500to 1000to 2000+
49 179 499 999 1999
Size of Farm (in acres)
Figure 1-1. Distributions of Farms by Size (USDA, 2004)
Family or individual farms make up the largest majority of farms in the United
States. The Economic Research Service (2004) defines family farms as farms, which are
legally controlled, by their operator and the operator's family and includes all farms
except those organized as nonfamily corporations or cooperatives. Over 1.9 million
farms are family farms, which has increased by 250,000 from 1992. The average age of
the principal operator of the farm is 55.3 years, which is two years older than in 1992.
Those who make up the age group of 45 to 54 years old are the largest percentage with
572,664 (USDA, 2004). Figure 1-2 represents the age range of principal operators for
farms in the United States.
25 and 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 54 55 to 59 60 to 64 65 to 69 70+
Age (in years)
Figure 1-2. Age Range of Principal Operators (USDA, 2004)
The trend of growth of smaller farms is evident in Florida. There were 44,000
farms in Florida in 2002, which was unchanged from 2000 and 2001, but approximately
9,000 more than in 1992. The average farm size is 236 acres, 70 acres less than in 1992.
There are 18,360 farms in Florida which are 10 to 49 acres in size, the second largest
group of farms, 10,267, are those that are one to nine acres in size. There are only 842
farms that are 2,000 acres or more (which produce most of the dollar value of agricultural
production). Family farms are the largest type of farm, with over 37,000 in this
category, which are approximately 10,000 more than in 1992. In Florida, the average age
of the principal operator on a farm is 57, an increase of 1.5 years from 1992. As with the
data for the United States, those in the age group of 45 to 54 are the largest group with
15,465 in the group (USDA, 2004).
The trends in the United States and Florida follow the shift in agriculture, which
has many small "part-time" farms and large agricultural corporations, with a decreasing
number of farms that are found in the middle of these two groups. There is a concern
about the loss of these farms because they represent such a significant portion of all farms
in the United States. In 1998, "91% of all U.S. farms were classified as small (or part-
time) farms and these farms accounted for 68% of all land owned by farmers" (Duffy &
Nanhou, 2002, p. 3). Critics of those concerned about of the loss of small farms argue
that farms are becoming larger to capture the economies of size. They believe that small
farms are not "real farms"; instead they seem as just rural residents or retirement farms
(Duffy & Nanhou, 2002).
One attribute of small farms is that they are almost universally part of a
household. There are an estimated 1.2 million farms in the United States, and of these
farms, 43% are owned by individuals who are classified as rural residents. This
percentage of small farms means they have sales less than $250,000 and they list
something other than farming as their principal income (Duffy & Nanhou, 2002).
Those involved in agriculture in the United States and the State of Florida realize
the need for people to step forth and provide a strong and educated voice to lead
agriculture and bring the needs and issues of the rural community to the forefront at the
community, state, national and international level. A reasonable choice to provide this
voice for rural communities and provide individuals who have the attitude/will/desire to
participate in the leadership process is the AFBF. Farm Bureau reflects the future of
agriculture and rural communities in its membership, the younger members who are
embarking on their careers and looking towards leadership positions in the future (P.
Cockrell, personal communication, September 10, 2002).
But why are those actively involved in agriculture not taking on leadership
responsibilities in the Florida Farm Bureau organization? Do they lack training, skills,
abilities, time or knowledge? Or do they not have a desire to lead? For those that do
accept leadership positions, will they be able to become effective and provide strong
leadership? Florida Farm Bureau realizes the need to provide leadership training for their
members, but what training should be offered? This study will provide data to assist in
answering these questions.
McCaslin (1993) theorized that sustainable rural development has been and will
be realized only through programs, which focus on active involvement of human
resources rather than a passive approach. Florida Farm Bureau is taking this proactive
approach, realizing the need for leadership development and wanting to take the next step
in designing a leadership-training program for its county board members.
An ideal leadership program reflects the diversity of the organization or
community. The shared experiences and networking that take place within the program
create a group of dedicated people who want to make a difference (Hustedde &
Woodward, 1996). Because of the complexity of today's organizations requires the use
of different leadership skills, and many organizations are concerned about the
inadequacies in leadership skills of their members and are involved in the development
and implementation of leadership development programs. These leadership programs
often offer ways to improve and develop the leadership capabilities of individuals
A focus group consisting of county Farm Bureau presidents agreed that training
for county board members should be improved, with one participant going on to state that
it is "the very weakest link" in his county Farm Bureau's program. The group concluded
that county Farm Bureaus would benefit from training by the FFBF staff (Florida Farm
Bureau Public Relations Division [FFBPRD], 1998). Findings from a study of those who
went through a leadership development program found that those who participated felt
more confident about promoting causes, were able to motivate others better, made more
informed decisions on public issues, were better able to work with people and lead a
group, and deal with local leaders better (Rohs & Langone, 1993). If the FFBF staff were
to offer such a leadership-training program, it would be expected that participants would
have similar experiences and results.
Background of the Study
Leadership is not an innate characteristic; it can be developed through formal and
informal training (Bolton, 1991). Leaders are made, not born. Most people have within
them the basic skills and abilities to assume leadership positions, and one strategy for
local capacity building is to promote the emergence of such individuals. An integral
component to the efforts to expand the pool of local leadership is the focus on
augmenting leadership skills. An understanding of the leadership process and an
enhancement of the potential local leader's information base are representative of this
strategy (Christenson & Robinson, 1989).
Developing the full potential of the leadership base in agriculture is extremely
important as this industry is facing new challenges such as environmental responsibility,
food quality, international competition, taxation, and clarifying its own identity (Georgia
Agri-Leaders Forum Foundation [GALFF], 2002). Rapid change is occurring in all
segments of society, agriculture included. To keep pace with this change, informed,
decisive, and communicative spokespersons are needed to represent agriculture (Kansas
Agriculture and Rural Leadership, 2002). New technologies, consolidation,
environmental concerns and food safety are some of the factors that are contributing to
the rapidly changing face of agriculture in the United States (Duffy & Nanhou, 2002).
Foster (2000) states that leadership provides people a way to connect with and
serve their communities, institutions, and organizations. This leadership is necessary as
dramatic changes are affecting the social, economic, natural, and political environments
of people in communities and cultures around the world. These changes present
challenges and opportunities that demand effective leadership at all levels of society to
ensure effective transitions and change.
Organizations can play a significant role by nurturing future leaders. They can
provide the education and training necessary for the advancement of leadership among its
members (Foster, 2000). Pemick (2001) states there are two advantages of building
leadership talent within an organization.
First, the next generation of leaders is groomed by the organization and can instill
the culture and agenda of the organization. Secondly, the organization has greater
control over the supply of leaders with the necessary skills, which makes
implementation of the organization's agenda easier and quicker. (p. 429)
Leadership development resides in the context of a community or organization
and must answer the question, "leadership for what?" (Foster, 2000). This study will
attempt to provide a basis for the "what" for the FFBF. It will provide research that will
allow the state organization to customize a leadership development program for its
membership with the expectations that after members go through this training they will
have the leadership background necessary to become effective leaders not only in the
Farm Bureau organization, but in their homes, businesses, and communities. The effects
of a leadership development program for Farm Bureau members could be far reaching,
but before those effects can be felt, desired leadership practices must be identified,
existing behavior in current leaders must be determined, "gaps" between desired practices
and existing behavior must be identified, current leadership practices must be explained
and the motivators of individuals to take on additional leadership responsibilities must be
FFBF needs a leadership-training program for county board members that range
from having little experience to years of experience. They also need to know what
motivates individuals who belong to the organization to become more involved. The
organization needs to have its members participate more in the programs that are offered
to the county Farm Bureaus and needs to have its members know more about the
organization as a whole (P. Cockrell, personal communication, September 10, 2002).
American agriculture is at a critical juncture. If current policies and trends are left
in place for another generation, there will be little left of traditional American agriculture
(Hassebrook, 1999). Instead there will be smaller, "hobby farms" and gigantic multi-
national agricultural corporations.
Rural communities that are supported by agriculture were once the foundation of
the United States and still make up large parts of the country, though rural communities
are diminishing due to urbanization and the decrease of agricultural industries that
provide the community base. McCaslin (1993) states, "one of the overriding concerns of
those individuals working towards the stabilization and future growth of rural
communities is the lack of active participation by many of its citizens" (p. 46). The
process of stabilization and revitalization in agriculture begins with effective and active
leadership and participation. As Farm Bureaus can be found in most rural communities
in the country and in Florida, this leadership can be found in the membership of local
county Farm Bureaus.
The problem leading to this research was: To keep a strong voice and presence at
the local, state, and national level, agriculture needs qualified leaders who are willing and
able to work on behalf of agriculture, rural communities and their livelihoods as
agriculture in the United States and the state of Florida is rapidly changing. From this
problem the following question arose: Why isn't Farm Bureau more involved in
"growing" and retaining leaders for grassroots leadership in local county Farm Bureaus.
Three reasons were hypothesized: 1) there is a lack of infusion of young member
involvement, 2) the attitude/will/desire among Farm Bureau members in taking
leadership roles in their local Farm Bureau organizations is unknown, and 3) expectations
of leaders is unknown.
From this problem, question, and potential explanations, the following objectives
were developed to guide this study.
Objectives of the Study
1. Identify selected demographics of county Farm Bureau membership.
2. Identify perceived leadership roles of county Farm Bureau leaders held by the state
Farm Bureau leadership.
3. Measure the extent to which county Farm Bureau members practice the leadership
expectations held by state Farm Bureau leaders and the level of importance they
assign to those skills.
4. Determine leadership attitude, will, and desire of active Florida Farm Bureau
5. Determine reason why local Farm Bureau members chose to participate or not
participate in leadership roles in local county Farm Bureau boards.
Significance of the Study
This study added to the body of knowledge on grassroots organizations, rural
leadership, and effective board membership. This study can serve as a model for other
Farm Bureau organizations, or other organizations interested in developing greater
participation in grassroots leadership. This is a critical time for Farm Bureaus around the
country, as well as other rural and agricultural organizations, as they change to meet new
needs of agriculture and the people who make their livelihood in this industry. The Farm
Bureau of today faces many challenges and it will need to evolve to meet those
challenges. In order for this evolution to occur, strong and capable leaders must emerge
and assume leadership positions and responsibilities.
Overview of Methodology
For this study, a non-experimental research design was employed that utilized
both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The first part of the study was a
qualitative assessment that used a long interview format. These interviews were
conducted with seven state leaders of the FFBF and were used to identify desired
leadership competencies they believed county Farm Bureau members should have in
order for their county Farm Bureau boards to be effective.
The second part of the study was derived from the content analysis of the
interview responses. A quantitative survey instrument was developed by the researcher
based on the identified competencies. In addition to the 66 competency questions this
survey also included a section with questions to gather selected demographic information.
The survey was given to a random sample of current county Farm Bureau board members
to determine their perceived importance of each competency and their perceived
proficiency of each competency.
In the third part of this study, a researcher designed leadership behavior
instrument was given to a sample of active Florida Farm Bureau members to determine
their motivations and their attitudes towards volunteering to serve on their county Farm
Bureau boards. This survey also included a section to collect selected demographic
information. These instruments were examined by a panel of experts and pilot tested
with a sample population of Farm Bureau county board members and active members to
ensure validity of the instruments and then were analyzed using descriptive statistics,
correlations and multiple regression.
Several approaches were employed in this research design to aid in resolving the
research questions. The long interviews provided qualitative information which
described processes and relationships that served as the basis for the second instrument.
Descriptive statistics were collected with the quantitative data provided in the second and
third instrument. The descriptive statistics do not provide evidence of relationships but
can be beneficial in explaining characteristics of individuals in groups. Correlations
between desired leadership practices and the attitude/will/desire of leaders or those in
leadership positions were also analyzed. These correlations investigate relationships of
variables and how they vary (Black, 1999).
The two instruments given to the two groups of Farm Bureau members were ex
post facto, or "after the fact." This refers to real-life studies that employ some of the
same measurement and statistical tools used in experimental studies. The difference is
the lack of control over independent variables; life experiences replace researcher-
determined treatments that would have been possible in a more structured, experimental
design (Black, 1999). Examples of the independent variables used in this study include
age, length of service to Farm Bureau, participation in other organizations (both
agricultural and general), marital status, family status, gender, residence, and if they work
off the farm.
Results of the survey to county board members and interviews with state Farm
Bureau officials identified "gaps" within desired leadership practices that are expected by
the state leadership in the FFBF and the importance and proficiency that board members
place on these practices. Also identified in the survey given to active members were the
motivations and attitudes that active Farm Bureau members have towards taking
additional leadership roles. These results were provided to the FFBF to assist in planning
leadership development opportunities for Farm Bureau members in the state of Florida.
Delimitations of the Study
This study used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Respondents
to this research design included leaders of the FFBF, county Farm Bureau board
members, and active Farm Bureau members. Limitations of this study must be
considered when applying the results. They are as follows:
1. The findings of this study can only be generalized to the population who make up the
Florida Farm Bureau membership. Care should be taken in attempts to generalize
these findings to other state Farm Bureau organizations, as the competencies of the
members of those organizations and the leadership requirements of the organizations
themselves may be different than those which are found in Florida. One could
surmise that Farm Bureau organizations across the country would benefit from a
study such as this and use it as a model to benefit their own organizations.
2. This study was limited to the current availability of literature on Farm Bureau
organizations on the state and national level.
3. The research assumes the subjects of the study provided truthful responses, but bias
may occur in the responses of the subjects.
Definitions of Key Terms
The following definitions are used in this study.
Florida Farm Bureau Federation The state Farm Bureau organization made up of the
federation of the 61 county Farm Bureau boards in Florida (P. Cockrell, personal
communication, September 10, 2002).
Active members Farm Bureau members who are full-time farmers, part-time farmers,
or farm managers. Currently only active members are elected to county boards or other
leadership positions in the Farm Bureau organization (P. Cockrell, S. Butler, & R.
Hemphill, personal communication, July 17, 2003).
Associate members Farm Bureau members who are not directly involved in farming.
These members are not eligible to be on county boards or state boards (P. Cockrell, S.
Butler, & R. Hemphill, personal communication, July 17, 2003).
The FFBF realizes that with the changes taking place within agriculture and
society as a whole, strong and effective leaders are needed to keep agriculture and the
Farm Bureau organization viable in the future. Younger members of the organization
often do not take on leadership roles or if they do, are not as effective in these roles as
they could be (P. Cockrell, personal communication, September 10, 2002). Realizing
this, the FFBF would like to offer a leadership-training program to its members, but must
understand and be able to articulate expectations of its leaders. This study provided the
necessary research for the development of such a program.
The five objectives that guided this study are to (1) identify demographics of
county Farm Bureau membership, (2) identify perceived leadership roles of county Farm
Bureau leaders by the state Farm Bureau leadership, (3) measure the extent to which
county Farm Bureau members practice the leadership expectations held by state Farm
Bureau leaders and the level of importance they assign to those skills, (4) determine
leadership attitude, will, and desire of active Florida Farm Bureau members, and (5)
determine reason why local Farm Bureau members chose to participate or not participate
in leadership roles in local county Farm Bureau boards. A background of the study, the
significance of the study, delimitations of the study and definitions of key terms of the
study were also provided in Chapter 1.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
The purpose of this study was to determine the leadership expectations and
perceptions of Florida Farm Bureau members. To accomplish this purpose, the study was
guided by six objectives which were (1) identify selected demographics of county Farm
Bureau membership, (2) identify perceived leadership roles of county Farm Bureau
leaders held by the state Farm Bureau leadership, (3) measure the extent to which county
Farm Bureau members practice the leadership expectations held by state Farm Bureau
leaders and the level of importance they assign to those skills, (4) determine leadership
attitude, will, and desire of active Florida Farm Bureau members, and (5) determine
reason why local Farm Bureau members chose to participate or not participate in
leadership roles in local county Farm Bureau boards.
This chapter will review the relevant literature that provided the background for
this research. Specific areas of literature include: the history of the Farm Bureau and
other agricultural organizations, political interest groups, grassroots organizations,
organizational leadership, motivations of volunteers, social capital and agricultural
leadership. As specific information or studies were limited about Farm Bureau boards
and leadership, general studies were also examined and reported in this chapter.
These specific areas of literature are divided into sections in this chapter with
headings that include history of Farm Bureau and agricultural organizations, political
interest groups, grassroots organizations, organizational leadership, motivations of
volunteers, social capital and agricultural leadership. The chapter will conclude with a
summary of the information provided.
History of Farm Bureau and Agricultural Organizations
Rural America had two features, which historically contributed most to its
distinctive forms of organization, the dominance of the family farm as the initial rural
industry and the prevalence of geographically separated small settlements. The
interdependence of the farm and town also fostered, and reinforced, agrarianism as a
dominant, pervasive, and persistent rural value (Mooney & Majka, 1995).
An agricultural industry composed largely of small family farms dispersed
geographically among small settlements were two of the most pertinent features of the
organizational foundation of rural America. Agriculture as an industry became identified
with agrarianism, and the dispersed settlements were the foundation for communitarian
values. The combination contributes to institutionalizing of family farms and rural
communities themselves, which then inspired many associated forms of organization
Farmers in rural areas were soon aided with several pieces of legislation that
provided the dissemination of research and information being conducted at the
universities in their states. The Hatch Act of 1867 established the land grant university
system and agricultural experiment stations. The Cooperative Extension Service soon
provided agricultural agents in each county, and "county demonstrators" had spread
across the south and into the north.
Creation of Farm Bureaus
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was enacted which accelerated the spread of the
county agent system. The Smith-Lever Act required states to pass legislation, which
would govern the utilization of federal revenues. Many states passed laws, which
required that a county agent could not be hired unless a local organization of farmers, a
"Farm Bureau" was first established. These early Farm Bureaus were formed in the early
1910s, which was a decade of dramatic reorganization in the agricultural sector (Berlage,
The Farm Bureaus showed local support for the county agent's programs and
created a source of funding for the agent's salary from the dues paid by members. The
relationship between the Farm Bureaus and the Extension Service was questioned
because the county agent, who was a public employee, had obligations to a private
pressure group, the county Farm Bureau. To address this concern, many state legislatures
and state colleges of agriculture began to separate extension from the local Farm Bureaus
Following WWII, the accelerating rate of agricultural mechanization along with
price supports and other new production technologies, expedited the substation of capital
for labor and increased the rate of farm consolidation. At the same time, land-grant
university research and extension reinforced a transition from multi-crop general farming
to specialized commodity production (Hobbs, 1995).
This transition was accompanied by new and different producer interests and
therefore a change in the types of organizations which represented them. Farmers no
longer automatically held interests in common but began to specialize along commodity
lines. Accordingly, general farm organizations became less effective in representing the
interests of producers, for interests of different commodities were often competitive.
New organizations, specialized by commodity, began to appear such as the American
Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, and the National
Cattlemen's Association. General farm organizations, such as the AFBF differ from
commodity organizations. Commodity organizations are principally devoted to
promoting domestic and international sales of their commodity, affecting legislation
favorable to commodity producers, and supporting research to develop new products and
uses of the commodity. Their primary focus is national and international in scope,
although most of the major commodity organizations have state and local associations in
regions that produce the commodity they represent. They are unlikely to have a local
agenda unless a local issue of direct relevance to commodity producers arises (Hobbs,
Specialized commodity organizations, such as the National Cattlemen's
Association or the National Corn Growers are more effective in pursuing narrow policy
goals than general agricultural organizations. The consequences to this piece-meal
approach to policy making by many specialized groups is the neglect of the farming
sector as a whole (Mooney & Majka, 1995).
During the early years of Farm Bureau, it was unique as compared to other
organizations because of the strong financial support it enjoyed. High dues for
membership, support from agribusiness, and effective governmental subsidization
through the Cooperative Extension Service all contributed to a powerful resource base for
Farm Bureau (Mooney & Majka, 1995).
There are two factors that have contributed to the success of the AFBF
organization. First, it was created and nurtured by the Cooperative Extension Service, a
public agency. The Extension Service organized local Farm Bureaus, helped in the
recruitment of members, and favored those members with the allocation of goods and
services. Second, the Farm Bureaus offered their members a number of services, from
insurance to farm supplies (Hansen, 1995).
While scholars have concentrated on the AFBF's national political influence to
explain its power, the local programs it offered were equally as important. Members
participated in the organization to take advantage of the bureau's scientific, economic,
and social projects rather than to gain national political power. The array of programs
that local Farm Bureaus offered strengthened the appeal of the organization and helped to
establish a strong power base in rural communities (Berlage, 2001).
The AFBF is the nation's largest farm organization with over five million
members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. There are 2800 county Farm Bureaus across
the country, which provide programs that are developed to meet the needs of member
families. Thousands of volunteer leaders serve on county Farm Bureau boards and
committees (AFBF, 2003). Bob Stallman, AFBF President, stated, "whether at the
county, state or national level, Farm Bureaus across the nation have always been loyal to
the foundation of our organization-our grassroots members" (Stallman, 2003, para. 11).
Farm Bureau has endured its share of criticisms. In his critique of the AFBF,
Berger (1971) stated that the AFBF claims it is a grassroots organization, which is truly
representative of farmers. However, the organization has become more and more
autocratic over the years. Policy positions are made at the top of a rigid hierarchy, while
attempts at the grassroots level to change that policy have been stifled. Another criticism
is that the AFBF claims to be an organization made up of farmers, when a large
percentage of its members have no relationship to farming. Membership has become
little more than a device through which Farm Bureau products and services are sold
In his 1971 commentary about AFBF Berger stated that, "the nation's biggest
farm organization has been quietly but systematically amassing one of the largest
business networks in America, while turning its back on the deepening crisis of the
farmers whom it supposedly represents." Farm Bureau has been called an organization of
and for large farmers (Mooney & Majka, 1995).
The AFBF was the dominant voice in Washington, D.C. with respect to farm
policy at the end of WWII. This was no longer true in the 1990s. Browne (1995)
conducted a study of agricultural organizations influence in the United States Congress,
Generalist organizations usually ranked by respondents as very active and
involved but only somewhat influential include such high profile groups as the
American Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute, and the Food
Marketing Institute. The access and influence of those groups are not seen as the
same, as is the case for interest that represent fewer and narrower claims.
Organizations that can speak to the very specific needs of a commodity program
or a distinct type of business seem to have a better transactional base within
Congress and, as a result, gain better reputations for influence. (p. 372)
National Farmers Union and the Grange
The NFU and the Grange also continue to represent large numbers of farmers in
addition to the AFBF. The Grange was, "increasingly relegated to less agriculturally
dependent regions and was not aggressive politically" (Mooney & Majka, 1995, p. 90).
The NFU struggled with the AFBF's increasing influence. The NGOPH, which was
established in the late 1800s, is the oldest national agricultural organization in the nation.
Today, Granges are established in 3,600 communities in 37 states. Its 300,000 members
provide support to rural areas and agriculture on a wide variety of issues, including
economic development, family, and legislation designed to assure a strong and viable
rural America (NGOPH, 2004).
The Grange is a grassroots organization that provides its' members a voice on the
local, state and national level. Major objectives of the Grange support stewardship of
America's natural resources, promotion of worldwide free trade, a combination of local
and federal support of rural medical, communications, and road systems, and elimination
of direct government farm programs (NGOPH, 2004).
The NFU is a general farm organization with a membership of nearly 250,000
farm and ranch families across the country. It is a federation that represents farmers and
ranchers in all states and the presidents of the 24 state and regional farmers union
organizations serve as its board of directors (Price, 2003).
The NFU was founded in 1902 due to a need identified by a group of farmers to
join together to fight a common cause. Today, according the president of the NFU, Dave
Frederickson, the NFU's education, cooperation, and legislative programs all revolve
around member needs. This organization also provides a voice for family agriculture and
rural America. Its primary goal has been to sustain and strengthen family farm and ranch
agriculture, which it does through a grassroots structure with policy positions begun at
the local level (Price, 2003).
In addition to the AFBF, the Grange, and the NFU, there is one other national
farm organization. The National Farmers' Organization (NFO) was formed in 1955. It
originated as a protest group that threatened farm strikes to a serious collective
bargaining organization that bargained with the buyers and processors of farm products
(Mooney & Majka, 1995).
All of these agricultural organizations have basically one thing in common, they
were all founded because a critical mass of highly motivated people decided that their
likelihood of success in tackling a significant challenge would be much greater if people
worked cooperatively toward a common goal (Stuart, 2003).
Florida Commodity Organizations
In the state of Florida, there are numerous organizations that represent all the
major agricultural commodities, which are grown in the state in addition to the FFBF
representing the general agricultural interests. Two of the largest and most powerful are
the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) and Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM).
FFVA began during World War II to address the challenges facing growers at the
time. Legislation had been passed that negatively affected Florida growers and those
growers saw a clear need to organize so that the concerns of Florida's fruit and vegetable
industry would be heard in Washington D. C. (Stuart, 2003).
The FFVA "has grown into one of the most recognized and influential
organizations of its kind in the country. Its success can be directly attributed to the
dedication and hard work of individuals who have served as officers and on its board of
directors and committees throughout its history" (Stuart, 2003, para. 5).
FCM began in 1948 after the citrus industry experienced severe market
fluctuations. Today, FCM provides the following services to its members: reliable
market information, grower legislation, taxation, citrus research, Florida Department of
Citrus oversight, and non-price information. The reason it has survived and prospered is
because growers, shippers, and processors of Florida citrus have coalesced to create an
organization that has broadened its initiatives to meet the changing needs of its grower
members (Florida Citrus Mutual, 2004).
Summary of history of Farm Bureau and agricultural organizations
Farm Bureaus were formed in the early 1900s in response to changes in the
agricultural sector. Farm Bureaus provided ways to disseminate research and information
being conducted by universities to farmers in rural areas. After WWII, farmers no longer
had common interests that were represented by organizations such as Farm Bureau.
Instead, organizations began forming that specialized along commodity lines and
represented the more narrow interests of farmers. These commodity groups pursued
more limited policy objectives than a general interest group such as Farm Bureau.
Even with each agricultural industry and commodity having a national
organization and frequently a state organization who represents them, the AFBF
continues to be the nation's largest farm organization with over five million members in
2800 local county Farm Bureaus across the United States and Puerto Rico. The NFU and
the NGOPH are general agricultural organizations who also represent farmers but have
smaller memberships than the AFBF. The Farm Bureau continues to represent the
political interests of its members on the county, state, and national level. The next
section provides information on Farm Bureau as a political interest group.
Farm Bureau as a Political Interest Group
Groups do not form spontaneously. In a simple society, there is little need for
interest group formation, even though there are distinct interests in the society.
Economic specialization and social differentiations are crucial to group proliferation.
Technological changes and the interdependence of economic sectors create new interests
and encourage the formation of interest groups (Loomis & Cigler, 1995).
Loomis and Cigler (1995) state that, "central to theories of group proliferation are
the pluralist notions that elements of society possess common needs and share a group
identity or consciousness, and that these are sufficient conditions for the formation of
effective political organizations" (p. 7).
Economist Mancur Olson challenged the pluralist theories and instead proposed
that individuals who share common interests are not inclined to join the organizations
that address their concerns. Individuals choose not to participate and bear the costs of
participation, because they can enjoy the benefits of the organization whether they join or
not, the "free rider" problem. Groups that pursue benefits that accrue to all members of a
segment of society will have difficulty forming and surviving (Olson, 1971).
As an organization, the AFBF has received extensive research and theoretical
treatment by social scientists since the AFBF is an economic lobby, which represents a
large constituency (Hansen, 1995). There are several controversies that exist regarding
membership in political interest groups especially in the AFBF. The core of this
controversy in this area is the importance of selective material benefits in the explanation
of membership. Olson (1971) argued that coercion or the offer of selective material
benefits to potential members would be necessary to induce them to join if the group was
to overcome the "free-ride" tendency. The free-rider problem is especially problematic
for large organizations as the larger the group, the less likely an individual will believe
their contribution as having any impact on group success (Loomis & Cigler, 1995).
Other political scientists and economists (such as Salisbury (1969), Moe (1980),
and Hansen (1985) believe that nonmaterial selective benefits and other factors
(perceptions and efficacy) explain membership in political interest groups (Brown, 1989).
The key to group formation and survival is the presence of selective benefits. These
benefits are offered to only members of the group and can include: discounts,
publications, and cheap insurance. The AFBF offers inexpensive insurance, which is a
major inducement to join, even if an individual does not agree with the Farm Bureau's
goals (Loomis & Cigler, 1995). The following services have been supplied as selective
material benefits to Farm Bureau members: (1) wide variety of insurance programs, (2)
regional and state purchasing cooperatives, (3) cooperative marketing programs, and (4)
discounts on consumer goods (Brown, 1989).
Another area of controversy is the impact of economic conditions on political
interest group membership. Truman's theory suggests that during hard economic times
individuals will join organizations that work for improvement of their economic
conditions. Truman theorized that two interrelated processes lead to group formation,
societal change and disturbances. As society evolves and becomes more complex, new
interest groups will emerge. Individuals are affected by "disturbances" which drive them
to then support group endeavors. Examples of this can be found in the history of the
formation of the major farm groups in the United States, such as the NGOPH, the
Farmers Alliance, the AFBF, and the NFU which all emerged between 1867 and 1900.
They were formed from an increased interaction of farmers in response to disturbances of
their accustomed behavior. These disturbances included: technological change,
westward expansion, growth of corporate power, industrialization, and low commodity
prices (Nownes & Neeley, 1996).
Robert Salisbury theorizes that group survival depends upon an exchange of
benefits that is mutually advantageous between the organization and the members
(Nownes & Neeley, 1996). Salisbury's view is that people join political interest groups
during periods of prosperity when the cost of dues is relatively painless, and that when
times get rougher membership in organizations is one of the first cost-cutting measures in
which people engage (Brown, 1989).
Hansen (1985) theorized that people in different contexts have different resources
and preferences, which indicates that they have different subjective weightings of the
benefits and costs of participating in a group. When resources such as time and income
are ample, people can easily bear the costs of participation. When people have particular
needs and preferences, they are attracted to certain benefits. When people have different
attitudes toward risk, they are more or less willing to engage in actions whose success is
An individual will join an interest group if the subjective costs incurred by joining
are less than the subjective benefits received from membership. As the information,
resources, preferences, and risk attitudes change in making the assessments to join, the
attractiveness of group affiliation changes too (Hansen, 1995).
Individuals are more easily mobilized in response to a threat than they are in
response to a prospect. The collective benefits of group membership are increased with
the awareness of threats. The effects of costs and benefits on group membership depend
on what is known about them, whether or not the benefits are wanted, and whether or not
the costs can be afforded (Hansen, 1995).
Brown (1989) tested several of the most prominent interest group theories by
examining membership in five state affiliates of the AFBF, but offered no concrete
conclusions except for the need of additional research on why people join interest groups
and what factors determine the membership levels.
Summary of Farm Bureau as a Political Interest Group
The AFBF has received extensive research and theoretical treatments by social
scientists, as it is an economic lobby which represents a large constituency. Several
theories by prominent social scientists were introduced in regards to group membership
such as: selective benefits, disturbances, exchange of benefits, and costs of benefits for
belonging to organizations. In addition to being a political interest group, the AFBF is a
grassroots organization which derives its power from its members on the county level. A
discussion of grassroots organizations follows.
In addition to being a political interest group, the AFBF is also a grassroots
organization. Smith (2000) defines grassroots associations as, "locally based,
significantly autonomous, volunteer-run, formal nonprofit groups that manifest
substantial voluntary altruism as groups and use the associational form of organization
and, thus, have official memberships of volunteers who perform most, and often all, of
the work/activity done in and by these nonprofits" (p. 7). Throughout history and
cultures, people have organized themselves to find solutions to specific problems through
grassroots efforts (Wittig, 1996).
Identifying with Grassroots Organizations
Important to grassroots organizations is developing a sense of identification with
the organization. The development of group cohesion, team building, and increasing
perceived social support may prove effective in enhancing the identification and further
strengthening the favorability of members' attitudes (Hinkle, Fox-Cardamone, Haseleu,
Brown, & Irwin, 1996). The development of a social identity serves to sustain
membership in a grassroots organization. This social identity serves as a motivator for
participating in a group. Individuals strive to maintain their self-esteem by committing to
a group, participating in its activities, identifying with its behaviors, and adopting its
symbols (Pratkanis & Turner, 1996). Bettencourt (1996) states, "grassroots efforts may
succeed if they capitalize on initiating grassroots involvement by helping potential
volunteers to become identified with the grassroots organization and on maintaining
activism by encouraging cohesion and commitment among the members of their group"
By joining organizations, people are seeking the respect of their peers. They also
want to belong to a group that gives individuals an opportunity where their contributions
can be appreciated (Kaye, 2001). People join grassroots organizations because they want
to be recognized for their leadership to serve members of their organizations and by
members of other groups for their contribution to the effort to build a better quality of life
(Kaye, 2001). Monetary funds, time, capacity, and skills of grassroots members, in
addition to leadership, are resources that contribute to the success of grassroots
organizations. They are necessary for the effectiveness and continued operation of
grassroots efforts (Bettencourt, 1996).
Leadership in Grassroots Organizations
To be successful, grassroots groups need to encourage the development of
effective communication skills among their members. When working toward a goal,
good communication among members is necessary to accomplish the planned action
steps to get to the goal. The extent to which grassroots members and leaders utilize open
communication will be reflected in the group's ability to resolve disagreements as well as
reduce conflict, resentment, and member dropout (Bettencourt, Dillman & Wollman,
Leaders of grassroots organizations need to be aware that volunteers differ in the
rewards they value and that these values change over time. Grassroots organizations
need to offer volunteers a variety of rewarding and challenging tasks to sustain their
efforts (Bettencourt et al., 1996). Brant (1995) states that, "one's personal values play an
important role in propelling one toward grassroots action" (p. 185).
A lack of leadership in grassroots organizations may have dire consequences on
the success of the group and the attempt to achieve change. To reduce chances of failure,
grassroots organizations need to foster the leadership skills of their members
Negative factors that affect volunteer motivations are stress, burnout, and
expenditures of time. "Although a certain amount of time investment from volunteers is
necessary, grassroots organizations should be ever mindful to encourage volunteers to
give only as much as they can afford and to avoid spreading themselves too thin with
commitments" (Bettencourt et al., 1996, p. 173).
Grassroots organizations have less of a problem finding people that support their
cause and more of a problem motivating people to act on their convictions (Hinkle et al.,
1996). Bettencourt et al. (1996) reasoned,
The success of a grassroots group is attributable, in part, to the coordination and
motivation of group members. The extent to which a grassroots organization
encourages members to identify with the group may be important for sustained
success. Group identity should facilitate coordination and motivation within the
group. (p. 170)
There are different types of motivations, which may inspire individuals to work
for grassroots organizations. One may be whether the fruits of the grassroots effort will
directly or indirectly affect members of the group (Bettencourt, 1996).
Summary of grassroots organizations
Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization. Grassroots organizations are
organizations in which people create and join to find solutions to specific problems that
affect them. Membership in these organizations is sustained by a common social identity
with the organization and its' members. Individuals are motivated to join these
organizations for many reasons, such as respect from their peers, benefits the
organization provides, solutions to problems that affect them, and the satisfaction of
working with others with similar problems to reach a common goal.
Motivations of Volunteers
According to Scott (2000):
There are more than one million not-for-profit organizations in the U.S. with
100,000 more created each year. This sector depends on volunteers to help
provide programs and services and financial support. Ninety-three million
people, almost half of the population volunteers an average of 4.2 hours a week.
With every other adult already volunteering, the overall number is unlikely to
grow. If non-profit organizations want to add to their activities they are already engaged
in, or attract volunteers from other organizations, they have to make their volunteers
more productive, which means giving them more work to do and additional responsibility
A majority of volunteer work is completed in associations or organizations. In
1995, 71% of the adults in the United States were members of associations, not including
memberships to churches and synagogues. In 1991, 53% of the population participated
in active unpaid volunteer work for non-profit organizations and associations (Smith,
2000). In 1998, survey results showed the highest rate of volunteer participation at 55%,
while the number of hours volunteered per week fell to 3.5 hours. Though there are
increasing numbers of people volunteering, fewer hours are being contributed by those
volunteers, which greatly increase the risk of volunteer burnout (Safrit & Merrill, 2002).
Inherited in the legacy in America is volunteering on behalf of the common good.
People are identifiers of needs, issues, and problems and expect to participate in the
decision making on how to respond to these. Voluntary activities range from short-term
events, which have a time limit, to longer-term commitments of service such as serving
on a board. The choice to sit on an organization's board is an important decision (Scott,
2000). Safrit & Merrill (2002) stated that:
The concept ofvolunteerism in North American society has evolved. What
historically began as individualized, altruistic behaviors founded upon strong
religious tenets has evolved into a contemporary social movement driven by a
wide range of individual motivations, and organizational and governmental
incentives. (p. 12)
Penner (2002) defines volunteerism "as long-term, planned, prosocial behaviors
that benefit strangers and occur within an organizational setting. Based on this definition,
volunteerism has four salient attributes: longevity, planfulness, nonobligatory helping,
and an organizational context" (p. 448). Longevity indicates a long-term behavior rather
than a one-time occurrence. Planfulness means that volunteering is typically a planned
action. Nonobligatory helping is the notion that the volunteer is not motivated by a sense
of personal obligation to a particular person (Penner, 2002).
Drucker (2001) described the motivations of volunteers as follows:
Volunteers have to get more satisfaction from their work than paid employees,
precisely because they do not get a paycheck. They need, above all, challenge.
They need to know the organization's mission and to believe in it. They need
continual training. They need to see results. (p. 80)
Motivation depends on being effective and being able to achieve something. If
effectiveness is lacking, the commitment to work and to contribute to the organization
will soon vanish and it will then be just going through the motions (Drucker, 2001).
The theoretical rationale on the roles of motives comes from Snyder's (1993)
functional approach to prosocial behaviors which are based on the notion that much of
human behavior is motivated by specific goals or needs. To fully understand why a
person is engaging in a behavior, the purpose or need served by that behavior needs to be
identified. The fundamental concerns of motivational inquiry is understanding the
processes that move people to action and the processes that initiate, direct and sustain
action. Clary et al. (1998) describe the functional perspective of volunteering as
encouraging the consideration of the wide range of personal and social motivations that
promote sustained behavior. This perspective advances an interactionist position, as it
argues that consequences follow from matching the motivations of individuals to the
opportunities in their environments.
From a functional perspective, people are recruited to volunteer by appealing to
their own psychological functions, and they will be satisfied to the extent they engage in
volunteer work that serves these psychological functions, and they will continue to serve
to the extent that their psychological functions are being served (Clary et al., 1998).
Omoto and Snyder (2002) developed a conceptual model of the volunteer process
which explains volunteering on various levels. At the individual level, the model focuses
on activities and the psychological processes of the individuals which include:
expressing their personal values, satisfying their need to help others, community concern,
personal development, and to fulfill esteem enhancement needs. At the intrapersonal
level, the dynamics of helping relationships between the volunteers and the recipients of
their help are incorporated. At the organizational level, the focus is now on the goals
associated with the recruitment, management, and retainment of volunteers. At the
societal level, the model takes into consideration the linkages between individuals and the
social structures of their society.
Cavalier (2000) proposes a triarchic theory of motivation, which proposes that
motivation is comprised of three autonomous motivational systems: the formative
system, the operational system, and the thematic system. The formative system includes
the development forces that move individuals in a certain direction. These forces include:
one's genetic makeup, learned behaviors, beliefs, values, social norms and attitudes, and
conflicts. The operational system includes the assessments where there is a sense of
integration, choosing, decision-making and evaluation. The thematic system finds its
roots in: 1) ego gratification, 2) self-actuation and 3) altruism (Cavalier, 2000).
Self-actuation is the motivation of individuals to seek ways to fully express their
interest, talents and potentials as human beings. The people who are characterized by
these motives may have talents or power over others by the virtue of their knowledge or
talents. Altruism is the principal motivational theme for people who seek opportunities to
help others (Cavalier, 2000). In rough terms, altruism is defined as an internal concept
that refers to the tendency or disposition of an entity to help others (Smith, 2000).
Penner (2002) used data from 1100 individuals who responded to a survey in the
USA Weekend, a Sunday supplement magazine carried in 560 newspapers, which
contained an article on altruism and invited readers to respond to an online poll about
their prosocial behaviors. This behavior is defined as an individual's empathy and
feelings of concern and responsibility for the welfare of others. Results from this study
showed that age was significantly and positively associated with the number of
organizations and length of time spent working for an organization.
Another instrument used to measure motivation sources was developed by
Barbuto and Scholl (1998), the motivation sources inventory has been used to predict
leadership influence tactics, transformational leadership behaviors and follower
compliance using sources of motivation which include: intrinsic, instrumental, external
and internal self-concept. It has shown to be reliable and valid in reported studies and
captures the sources of motivation.
Barbuto, Brown, Wilhite and Wheeler (2001) describe intrinsic process
motivation as when a person is motivated to perform certain kinds of work or to engage
in certain types of behavior for the fun of it. The work acts as an incentive and it is
derived from immediate internal gratification. Deci and Ryan (1995) describe intrinsic
motivation as the innate, organismic needs for self-determination and competence.
Instrumental motivation is when individuals perceive their behavior will lead to pay,
promotions, bonuses, or other extrinsic tangible outcomes (Barbuto et al., 2001).
Self-concept-external motivation is based on an individual who is primarily other-
directed and seeking affirmation of traits, competencies, and values. The individual
behaves to satisfy reference group members to gain acceptance and then status (Barbuto
et al., 2001). Deci and Ryan (1995) describe this type of motivation as extrinsic
motivation, the behavior where the reason for doing it is something other than an interest
in the activity itself. It may be due to something a person feels pressured to do.
Self-concept-internal motivation is internally based. The individual sets internal
standards that become the basis for the ideal self and is motivated to engage in behaviors
that reinforce these standards (Barbuto et al., 2001). Internal motivations also are
motivations for cooperation that flow from individuals' values and attitudes and shape
their behavior (Tyler, 2002).
Loyalty or commitment to the group or organization can also be a motivation of
volunteering as people in groups come to identify with those groups (Tyler, 2002). Tyler
(2002) describes social identity theory as one that individuals in groups identify with
those groups and merge their sense of identity with the groups and when people identify
with groups they put the welfare of the group above their own.
When there is no identification with a group, if an individual believes that the
organization does not represent their interests or if an individual is content, they may
become apathetic and do not feel the need to participate. There is a connection between
contentment and apathy as a content person may become lulled into apathy over time
after deciding that withdrawing from an activity will not seriously jeopardize his or her
future wants or needs, and thereby future contentment (DeLuca, 1995).
Leaders play an important role in creating and sustaining a group with which
individuals can become loyal and committed to. The feeling of group identification
encourages cooperation on behalf of the group because people merge their sense of
themselves with the group. The important role of attitudes and values in stimulating
cooperation suggests the importance of creating a supportive culture or value climate
within a group. "Leaders need to stimulate intrinsic interest in group roles, identification
with the group, and the development of moral values and feelings that group authorities
are legitimate" (Tyler, 2002, p. 779).
The objective of a study done by Martinez and McMullin (2004) was to better
understand the motivations and characteristics of individuals who participate in volunteer
activities in comparison to those who do not. Results found that active members
belonged to organizations almost twice as long as non-active members. Both groups had
similar competing commitments on their time. Active members witnessed the effects of
their efforts, witnessed organizational success and achieved a level of personal
accomplishment; they believed they could make a difference. For those that were not
active, the potential benefits and outcomes may have been important but unknown. This
study, a longitudinal analysis, was conducted on the characteristics of membership of
voluntary organizations, "these characteristics are: (a) memberships over time are
relatively stable, (b) most individuals will add and drop memberships in organizations
over time but maintain at least one continuous membership, and (c) the occurrence of
affiliation changes influence the structure and function of association" (Martinez &
McMullin, 2004, p. 114).
Influences on Volunteers
Penner (2002) identified the organizational variables that are likely to influence a
volunteer's behavior, they are: "(1) an individual member's perceptions of and feelings
about the way he or she is treated by the organization and (2) the organization's
reputation and personnel practices" (p. 458). In a study done by DeChant (2001),
research showed that a person may be committed to an organization but the level of
commitment cannot serve as a measure for the amount of volunteer hours they will
actually perform. Volunteering in an organization provides opportunities to build
stronger ties and commitment to the organization. For those that are not active
participants, believing that they could not contribute effectively to the organization's
activities may be the reason why they do not actively participate (Martinez & McMullin,
Eisinger (2002) states "attracting future leaders is as much about knowing what
you want as it is about knowing what members are hoping to gain, that's another
challenge inherent to attracting and engaging volunteer leaders" (p.3). Organizations
who are interested in recruiting new volunteers would benefit by identifying the things
that would motivate a certain target group to volunteer and then highlight those motives
in their recruiting appeals directed at this target group. If an organization has difficulties
retaining volunteers, the problem is sometimes not a shortage of people who want to
volunteer it is the attrition rate of people who are in the early stages of tenure in the
organization (Penner, 2002). Why do individuals volunteer for organizations? Clary et
al. (1998) state simply that:
Volunteers (a) often actively seek out opportunities to help others; (b) may
deliberate for considerable amounts of time about whether to volunteer, the extent
of their involvement, and the degree to which particular activities fit with their
own personal needs; and (c) may make a commitment to an ongoing helping
relationships that may extend over a considerable period of time and that may
entail considerable personal costs of time, energy, and opportunity. (p. 1517)
Martinez and McMullin (2004) state "volunteer roles may appeal to people with
certain lifestyles based on (a) ones' position in a job; (b) whether one is employed full-
time, part-time is retired, or is a home maker, (c) age and (d) the expectations and
associated responsibilities of the role(s) one would fill" (p. 114). The success of the
volunteer experience is largely determined by whether the volunteer experience meets the
person's expectations. The more that is known about those expectations, the more effort
can be made to ensure the volunteer remains motivated (Eisinger, 2002).
Individuals are more attracted to organizations that have a good reputation for
management that effectively used the talents of the volunteers. Poor management of
volunteers is frequently the reason that people discontinue their volunteer service. In
addition to effective volunteer management, organizations who utilize volunteers should
have individuals volunteering who represent the membership that they are working for.
There is increasing pressure for organizations to reflect a broader cross-section of the
societies which they represent (Safrit & Merrill, 2002).
Constraints on Volunteering
Martinez and McMullin (2004) state that in order to understand why people
become active volunteers, it is important to consider why people do not volunteer.
"Three reasons for nonparticipation have been identified: (a) individuals lacked the
capacity to volunteer, (b) individuals lacked motivation, or (c) individuals had not been
asked" (p. 113). This implied that both access to resources and capacity to take part
along with motivation, are necessary for members to become active.
The generations of individuals who compose the volunteer segment of the
population are facing different issues and pressures. Individuals who belong to the "baby
boomer" generation are facing pressures of the needs of their children and their aging
parents. Those individuals who were born between 1960 and 1980, the members of
Generation X, are inwardly focused and less inclined to be involved. They are facing
personal and professional pressures as they build their careers and families. Life
pressures, particularly those of time and family are limiting the availability of traditional
volunteers (Safrit & Merrill, 2002).
Organizations need to find ways to structure volunteer work, which will allow
people increased flexibility to move in and out of volunteering as work and family
pressures affect their lives. Turnover rate is influenced by the importance and structure
of an organization, as well as age, family status, work, family stage, and life stage
(Martinez & McMullin, 2004). As Eisinger (2002) states:
The needs of today's time-crunched members, such as shorter-term commitments,
may require associations to examine their traditional notions of volunteer service
and how to attract those members to leadership positions. In addition, identifying
and developing future volunteer leaders requires a commitment from the highest
levels of the organization. (p. 5)
Organizations need to pay more attention to personal and professional
development opportunities for volunteers that will increase their effectiveness while
maintaining personal interest (Safrit & Merrill, 2002). Volunteers who are active must
have certain abilities. Volunteers must develop the personal capacities to make critical
decisions regarding their actions on behalf of the organization as they need to learn "how
to think" rather than just "what to think" (Safrit & Jones, 2003). Volunteers demand
training from their organizations. They want responsibility and expect to participate in
making decisions that affect their work and the work of the organization as a whole.
Volunteers also expect the organization to remove non-performers who are hindering the
effectiveness of the organization (Drucker, 2001). Traditionally, training programs for
volunteers have focused on specific subject matter, organizational, or interpersonal skills.
They must also include components that challenge volunteers to develop important
thinking and processing skills (Safrit & Jones, 2003).
There are several variables that determine the group's overall effectiveness; how
well resources are utilized (both personnel and resources), how members are motivated to
perform, and how much teamwork and cooperation there is among group members. A
deficiency in any of these variables is likely to reduce group effectiveness. The function
of leadership is maintaining an optimal level for each of these variables (Yukl, 1994).
Current trends in organizational management and leadership are affecting the
decisions that people make in their volunteer activities. Authoritarian management styles
are being replaced by participative decision-making and teamwork and volunteers are
seeking similar management styles in the non-profit organizations they volunteer with.
Volunteers tend now to avoid authoritarian management and large bureaucratic
institutions, and are seeking organizations that treat them professionally and include them
in planning and decision-making phases of work (Safrit & Merrill, 2002).
Further studies have shown that the length of tenure as a volunteer is positively
associated with organizational satisfaction. "Volunteers who are satisfied with their job,
committed to the organization, have positive affect while on the job, and believe they are
being treated fairly should display a higher level of volunteer activity" (Penner, 2002, p.
459). Organizations that can design and manage opportunities for volunteers that allow
individuals to make meaningful contributions in non-traditional time frames are more
likely to attract a more diverse range of volunteers (Safrit & Merrill, 2002). The next
section will address organizational leadership and how it affects the productivity of a
group or organization.
Summary of motivations of volunteers
Approximately half of the adult population in the United States volunteers a
portion of their time to organizations. Individuals are identifiers of needs, issues, and
problems and participate in the decision making on how to respond to these factors.
There are many reasons why individuals volunteer and organizations need to understand
what motivates individuals to volunteer and make the volunteer experience positive and
meaningful to their volunteers. The organization needs to provide group identification
for their volunteers so they can relate to the organization and the organization needs to
provide volunteer experiences that fit with the individual's lifestyle as factors such as
gender, children, and life status affect the time an individual can devote to an
An understanding of what the attraction is to serve and lead an organization, of
what motivates individuals to become members of the board, of what causes those
individuals to care deeply about the future of the organization, and of what helps
individuals remain active and committed is vitally important knowledge to an
organization (Scott, 2000).
Maxwell (1995) states "grow a leader-grow the organization" (p.4). An
organization's strength is a direct result of the strength of the leaders of the organization.
Organizational leaders must be active in their organization, generate productive activity
and must encourage and command changes in the organization (Maxwell, 1995). The
survival of institutions depends on the capacity of "leaders to develop and maintain
organizational cultures that foster and sustain autonomy and independence while
strengthening the ability of individuals to care for and commit to the organization and the
larger community" (Scott, 2000, p. 13).
Organizational leaders will need to be able to read the larger environment at
various levels and know which level to focus attention on so their organization can
negotiate change successfully. Not-for-profit organizations need leaders who can engage
in the process of "systems thinking." This is leadership that can understand the bigger
picture without being pulled into tunnel vision or allow quick fixes of problems (Scott,
The process of "systems thinking" can be better understood by understanding the
different components or perspectives of an organization. Bolman and Deal (1997) have
condensed the major schools of organizational thought into four perspectives or frames.
The frames are structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. Effective leaders
understand their own strengths and work to expand them and build their teams or groups
that can provide leadership in all four frames.
The structural frame emphasizes the organizations' goals, roles and relationships.
Problems in organizations occur when the structure does not fit the situation. The
challenge is to tailor the organization to the people who work within it. Organizations
need to find a way for individuals to get the job done, while feeling good about what they
are doing (Bolman & Deal, 1997).
The human resource frame believes that organizations can be productive,
energizing and mutually rewarding. This perspective regards the skills, attitudes, energy
and commitment of individuals as vital resources of either making or breaking the
enterprise. When the fit between the organization and individual is poor, one or both
suffer. Organizations may become ineffective because individuals withdraw their efforts
and individuals may feel neglected or feel their abilities are needed or wanted. When the
fit is good, individuals find meaningful and satisfying work and organizations get the
talent and energy they need to succeed (Bolman & Deal, 1997).
The political frame asserts that in the face of differences and scarce resources,
conflict is unavoidable and power is a key resource, the assumptions of this frame find
the sources of political dynamics in organizations. The symbolic frame sees
organizations as cultures, which are propelled by rituals, ceremonies, stories, heroes and
myths rather than by rules, policies, and managerial authority (Bolman & Deal, 1997).
Duke (1998) stated that individuals are seen to occupy roles which represent sets
of expectations and these roles are a function of social context and individual
understanding. An assumption about human nature supports this "role theory" is that
humans are capable of self-reflection and evaluation. Inquiry in sociological research
must focus on understanding how people define situations, determine what is expected of
them, and select courses of action. Role expectations become an important source of
information for the study of organizations.
Organizing is as much a bottom-up philosophy and process as a method to win
victories on specific issues as people are encouraged to take direct action on their own
issues, not encouraged to look to others to act on their behalf The greatest organizational
mileage occurs when a group of members are directly involved in winning a victory. The
lesson is that "we won because we are organized, there is strength in numbers." Such
strategies build a sense of ownership and control, empowering people through the process
of organizing as well as through benefits achieved (Staples, 1984).
Membership in Organizations
The growth of an organization depends on retaining members and recruiting new
ones. Success depends on a combination of things: a shared organizational vision, an
effective group process and a strong capacity for leadership development. The long-
range vision of an organization is key to keeping and attracting new members. There
needs to be a sense of community and the challenge of higher goals. More people will
stay active in an organization if they feel they are taking part in something important and
exciting. Some membership attrition is inevitable as people's lives, actions, and
responsibilities change over time. "Only by attracting and involving new people can the
organization renew and regenerate itself in the face of the natural tendency for people to
lose interest, drop out, or become less active" (Staples, 1984, p. 122). The "apathy" of
the organization's members is usually blamed for declines in organizational membership.
Most individuals are attracted to an organization because of the prospects of being
victorious on an issue they have a stake in. Membership involvement is needed to win
through collective action, which also helps to build an organization. Members do their
part by participating, and hopefully there is a concrete benefit produced by the
organization. When the issue is over, most members go back home, even though they are
still members of the organization. If the experience was satisfying, they will likely
participate again if it's in their self-interests to do so (Staples, 1984). Effective collective
action depends on the active involvement of self-motivated participants. The
commitment of organizational participants-to each other and to the organization-
becomes a critical and a necessary mechanism for directing their behavior toward
collective goal accomplishment (Robertson & Tang, 1995).
Roberson and Tang (1995) defined commitment as "a psychological attachment
felt by the person for the organization" (p.68). The dominant orientation in
organizational behavior literature focuses on commitment as an individual's attitude
regarding their relationship to the organization. The role of commitment in collective
action receives attention from two literature bases, the field of organizational behavior
and rational choice literature. The organizational behavior literature focuses on factors
that influence the quality of individuals' involvement and performance in the
organization. A primary focus has been individuals' work attitudes and the individual
and organizational characteristics that shape these attitudes (Robertson & Tang, 1995).
The rational choice literature focuses on how an individual's choice of behavior
depends on the way they perceive and weigh the expected costs and benefits of
alternative courses of action. The extent to which participants perceive each other to be
credibly committed to the cooperative arrangement is important, rather than the level of
individuals' commitment to the organization as an entity (Robertson & Tang, 1995).
Both organizational behavior and rational choice perspectives share the common
belief that commitment is an important factor affecting collective action systems.
Implicit in both is the notion that individuals with higher levels of commitment are more
likely to engage in behaviors oriented toward the good of the collective. Commitment
can motivate individuals to act cooperatively in pursuit of shared collective ends
(Robertson & Tang, 1995).
The two perspectives differ in how they conceptualize the role of the mechanisms
in building commitment in collective action. Robertson and Tang (1995) describe these
The organizational behavior literature emphasizes the role informal social
mechanisms play in shaping individuals' cognition and values. The focus is on
how participants internalize norms and values, and thus increase their personal
commitment to social and organizational life. The rational choice perspective, on
the other hand, views informal social mechanisms as a means of enhancing
credible commitment and mutually beneficial gains among individuals. The focus
is on how participants develop trust among themselves and pursue long-term
mutual benefits. (p. 70)
Leadership in Organizations
Staples (1984) states, "the person who acts alone has very little power. When
people join together and organize, they increase their ability to get things done. The goal
is to strengthen their collective capacities to bring about social change" (p. 1).
"Organizations with the broadest base of participation usually develop the best leaders
and, in turn, those leaders help increase membership involvement. Existing leaders and
organizers have the responsibility for expanding the leadership core and motivating,
teaching, and supporting the new people who emerge" (Staples, 1984, p. 129). An
organization's choice not to innovate or change with the times is the largest reason for its
decline. Organizational performance is measured by its development of its people, its
standing, innovation, and its productivity. Changes in population structure and
population dynamics are important trends to watch in the future of organizations, as these
trends will be the cause of an organization to evolve. The populations that comprise the
memberships of organizations are changing and no longer remain as constant as they
once did (Drucker, 2001).
A successful nonprofit organization focuses the organization on action by
defining the strategies needed to accomplish the important goals of the organization. The
most effective nonprofits devote much time on defining the mission of the organization.
They focus objectives that have clear implications for the work of their members, both
their staff and their volunteers (Drucker, 2001).
Northouse (1997) defines leadership as, "a process whereby an individual
influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal" (p. 3). At the core of
leadership are the ideas that leadership is a process, it involves influence, it occurs within
a group and it involves the attainment of a goal by the group (Northouse, 1997).
An important impediment to achieving leadership effectiveness is a lack of leadership
skill. Skill is needed because the role of the leader is both complex and simple. Simple,
because effectively functioning groups have a natural synergy that gives them momentum
and complex because the relationships with group members are dynamic and constantly
changing, depending on the situation, goals, and the environment (Hersey, Blanchard &
One of the fastest ways to build leaders in an organization is to train them. The
most effective training takes advantage of the way people learn, from research it is
known that individuals remember 10% of what they hear, 50% of what we see, 70% of
what we say, and 90% of what we hear, see, say, and do (Maxwell, 1995). Leadership
development programs that aid in the assurance of an adequate supply of effective leaders
are a vital and continuing need in communities and organizations across the United States
(Rohs & Langone, 1993). Leadership development builds the capacity of local leaders
and citizens. This means enhancing the potential of individuals to solve problems. It is
done by engaging citizens and organizations to identify needs, resources, and
opportunities (Hustedde & Woodward, 1996).
A major responsibility of an organization is to cultivate leadership skills and pass
on that knowledge to the next generation of leaders. Because of retirement, many
organizations are facing a high turnover rate, which means that the leaders of tomorrow
could look, and think a lot differently, about their commitment and role within the
organization (Eisinger, 2002). Eisinger (2002) continues by stating, "once associations
identify future volunteer leaders, they must offer specific training programs" (p.14).
Much of this training needs to be directed towards those volunteers who are serving on
organizational boards as they sometimes lack the necessary skills to be effective board
Many non-profits have a functioning board. Those that serve on the boards have
a personal commitment to the organization's cause. Most board members should have a
deep knowledge and understanding about the organization. The key to making the board
effective is organizing the work of the board (Drucker, 2001).
The board of an organization should reflect the makeup of the membership, which
includes people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and interest. If the board has
been homogeneous in the past, it needs to broaden its horizons and welcome new ideas
that emerge from interactions among different groups (Eisinger, 2002).
Tweeten (2002) states, "dynamic, visionary boards are absolutely critical to the
future of nonprofit, service delivery organizations" (p. 1). Twenty-first century boards
are facing inevitable changes as a result of dramatic and continuing societal changes.
These changes include, the way people learn, they way they view authority, philanthropy,
and non-profit organizations, and they way they live, work, and play with emphasis on
self-development, independence, flexibility, rapidly moving technology, and family
In the past, some boards with weak board members may have been able to operate
inefficiently and still get by, but this will not be possible as organizations face the
transformation process that is inevitable if they are to be successful. Boards can no
longer afford to be dysfunctional. There is a dangerous tendency for some boards to be
so attached to their past that they overvalue their history and are reluctant to embrace the
necessary change that will make them effective (Tweeten, 2002).
Organizational Changes for the Future
There are several ways organizations will have to change to remain viable and
effective in the future. Organizations need to realize that there are other ways for the
meaningful involvement of people in their organizations other than on their boards.
Boards will need to be more resourceful and their membership more diverse to accurately
reflect the population they represent. Board members will have to be team players, with
the ability to work effectively in a group. Board members will need to make intense
commitments to their board responsibilities. This commitment may result in board
members cycling in and out appropriately, depending on their available time to be fully
engaged as they serve on the board. Commitments may be shorter but more concentrated
A study by Bright (2001) on the commitment of board members suggested that
individuals believe that commitment among board members is essential to the effective
functioning of boards. When board members served primarily because they had an
emotional attachment to the organization, the board experienced higher performance,
though passions and personal experiences individuals bring to the cause often obscure
objective thinking and may thwart the success of the organization. Research has
suggested that ideal board members are personally affected by the problems) the
organization focuses on. It has also shown that board members who care, but have some
distance from the issue are best because they are able to make difficult decisions for the
good of the organization as a whole, based on facts, not emotions (Bright, 2001).
Whether volunteering on an organizational board or for the organization in
general, it is important that the group has common goals. Hersey et al. (1996) state
"research has consistently shown that group productivity is highest in those groups in
which techniques are used that simultaneously further the attainment of group goals and
bring fulfillment of the needs of individual group members" (p. 363).
The goals of an organization help shape the organizational leaders as do the
context, norms and values of the organization and determine the effectiveness of a group.
Two conditions that face all organizations and their leaders are external adoption and
internal integration. External adaptation is the idea that all organizations fit a context; the
survival of the organization is contingent on the organization's ability to address the
needs and expectations of its environment. Internal integration is the assurance that all
members of the organization value and pursue the goals of the organization (Duke, 1998).
Effective groups are those in which the needs of the group are harmonious with
the needs of the individuals. Individual needs may be different for each group member.
The key to individual needs satisfaction is that those needs are dependent upon the
accomplishment of the group goals. The degree to which individual need satisfaction is
achieved differentiates those effective groups from ineffective ones (Hersey et al., 1996).
The shifting demographic trends may make it necessary for organizations to
modify their approach to volunteerism and how leadership opportunities are structured.
Differing leadership styles need to be considered. Keeping the interest levels high in
volunteers is not achieved by increasing their responsibilities, instead, they need to feel
like the have ownership in the association (Eisinger, 2002).
Those who volunteer are less interested in serving in long-term commitments and
in a designated role for the entire year, and are more willing to work on one project and
see it through to completion. Organizations are learning that the more you give board
members to do, the more they tend not to return (Eisinger, 2002). Washbush (1998)
states, "personal motivation, self-assessment, diagnostic skills coupled with vision, and
the ability to communicate are fundamentally important to one who aspires to have an
impact in the organization" (p. 251).
Sorcher and Brant (2002) state, "homogenous groups often run more smoothly,
but they lack the synergistic power of a diverse team of people with talents, skills, and
characteristics that complement one another" (p. 80). Exceptional leaders are willing to
take risks by picking people who are not like them and who may have different
There are several trends that need to be addressed by nonprofit boards: (1)
limited availability of board members, (2) lack of preparation of board members, (3) lack
of recruitment strategies, (4) board members who are on too many boards, and (5) board
members who do not understand their roles (Tweeten, 2002). Many organizations do not
have procedures in place to identify or recruit potential leaders. Potential leaders are
sometimes assessed based on hearsay, observations, and insufficient information. The
process of identifying these future leaders is not simple or straightforward as leadership is
a complex, multifaceted capability (Sorcher & Brant, 2002).
Organizations need to consider these trends as many organizations are struggling
with a shortage in leadership, though in these organizations, there may be a lot of
leadership talent that goes unused. Leaders tend to favor other potential leaders with
backgrounds, experiences, and characteristics that are similar to their own. Often
promising potential leaders are overlooked because of differences in gender, race, or
cultural, academic, socioeconomic, or geographical background (Sorcher & Brant, 2002).
Leaders are managers of group dynamics. They are a key component to the
effectiveness of any group. Effective leaders will recognize the variations among
individual members in their abilities and willingness to do a job and assign work roles
accordingly. Effective leaders are sensitive to the natural cycle of commitment to long-
term projects and provide the necessary support to sustain commitment over prolonged
periods (Garkovich, 1984).
"If we assume that leaders are made, not born, and that most people have within
them the basic skills and abilities to assume leadership positions, then one strategy for
local capacity building is to promote the emergence of such individuals" (Garkovich,
1984, p. 209). This can be done through organized leadership development programs.
A climate needs to be generated in an organization where the members feel that
they are heard, supported, and have a sense that the organization is open to new ideas.
This generates interest and encourages the members to stay involved (Eisinger, 2002).
Organizations need to retain its volunteers to remain effective and viable into the future.
Effective leadership combines both altruism and authority. It is respectful of the
need for individual interests and also considerate of the common good (Scott, 2000).
Scott (2000) defines altruism as "caring for the welfare of others; it is the ability to be
concerned about the condition or state of being of another human and to acknowledge
and meet the needs of the other" (p. 23). Authority is the degree of power exercised by
an individual, organization, or group in order to perform important functions to those
over which the authority is exercised. These concepts build into the ideas of social
capital and civic engagement, which will be examined in the next section.
Summary of organizational leadership
The strength of an organization is a direct result of the organization's leadership.
The growth of an organization depends on retaining members and recruiting new ones.
Individuals will continue to be involved in an organization if they feel they are
participating in something important and exciting. Individuals are attracted to
organizations because of the prospects of being victorious on an issue they have a stake
in. An organization has the responsibility to provide leadership development
opportunities to individuals to further develop their leadership skills.
Social capital is a collective concept that has its basis in individual behavior,
attitudes, and predispositions. Multiple institutions nurture the habits and values that give
rise to social capital, including community and other voluntary associations, families,
church organizations, and cultural patterns. Scholarly interest in the development of
social capital is motivated primarily by the linkage between levels of social capital and
collective outcomes (Brehm & Rahn, 1997, p. 999).
The more citizens participate in organizations and their communities, the more
they learn to trust others; the greater the trust of others, and the more likely they are to
participate. Social capital is the reciprocal relationship between civic participation and
interpersonal trust. Brehm and Rahn (1997) believe that, "civic engagement and
generalized trust, and the dynamic that sustains them, have important consequences for
the polity, specifically, citizens' confidence in political institutions" (p. 1003).
According to Garkovich (1984), associations and organizations, "provide the locus in
which individual interests are articulated and translated into action goals, and humans and
other resources are mobilized for goal accomplishment" (p. 199).
Scheufele and Shah (2000) propose that the process through which social capital
is maintained is a three-way relationship among civic engagement (group memberships
and civic participation), life satisfaction (contentment with respect to present condition
and future prospects), and interpersonal trust. The theory of social capital presumes that
the more people connect with each other, the more they trust each other. Civic
engagement refers to people's connections with the life of their communities (Scheufele
& Shah, 2000).
In the social field paradigm, social action is the pivotal element. It is in social
action that various individuals and associations come to orient their activities around
overlapping interests (Garkovich, 1984). Christenson and Robinson (1989) discuss social
action as the key component in the social field paradigm. The underlying process of the
social action framework, is one in which associations are linked through common
interests to act together toward mutually defined goals. The process depends on effective
leadership, leadership that can anticipate change, identify action programs, contribute to
informed decisions, stimulate support, attract resources, and manage group behavior.
Leadership involves both the ability to organize and sustain task performance and arouse
or stimulate others to join in the task (Garkovich, 1984; Christenson & Robinson, Jr.,
An essential characteristic of a properly functioning society is engagement in
civic activities because cooperative actions enable citizens to efficiently pursue common
goals. Self-confident leaders are more trusting in other people, they are satisfied with
their life and their achievements, and they are more likely to engage in various forms of
community activities. A grassroots political movement is a social capital-intensive form
of political participation (Scheufele & Shah, 2000).
The trend in civic engagement, shown by membership records of organizations,
has declined by roughly 25 to 50% over the last three decades. There are many reasons
why social capital has eroded: time pressures, economic hard times, residential mobility,
surbanization, movement of women to the paid work force, disruption of marriage and
family times, the electronic revolution and other technological changes. A social trend
which influences social capital and coincides with the downturn in civic engagement is
the breakdown of the traditional family unit. Since the family is a key form of social
capital, its eclipse is part of the explanation for the reduction in joining and trusting in the
wider community (Scheufele & Shah, 2000).
Married men and women do rank higher on measures of social capital. Men and
women, divorced, separated, and never-married, are significantly less trusting and less
engaged civically than married people. Married men and women are a third more
trusting and belong to about 15 to 25% more groups than comparable single men and
women. Women belong to fewer voluntary organizations then men and older people
belong to more organizations than young people (Scheufele & Shah, 2000).
Social capital is features of life, networks, norms, and trust that enable
participants to act together to more effectively pursue shared objectives (Scheufele &
Shah, 2000). It has been shown that a greater number of social ties increased the
likelihood that a group will be more successful in organizing for concerted action
(O'Brien, Hassinger, Brown & Pinkerton, 1991). Social capital is important when
discussing agricultural organizations as social capital has strong influences in these
Summary of Social Capital
Social capital is the reciprocal relationship between civic participation and
interpersonal trust. It presumes that the more people connect with each other, the more
they trust each other. From this theory comes the notion of social action in which
individuals and groups orient their activities around overlapping interest. There has been
a decline in social capital because of time pressures, difficult economic times and
changes in the family structure. This has caused a decline in civic participation.
When discussing leadership in agricultural organizations, the leaders have
traditionally been male. With recent demographic shifts in the volunteers of
organizations, more women will become a part of these organizations, but to understand
agriculture and agricultural organizations, it is important to look at the past and the
influence that men have had on these organizations.
Family farmers lack the power of individual survival almost by their very nature.
The reason lies in the psychology of the individual farmer, whose concentration on his
own operation tends to distract him from concern for factors that affect farming as a
whole. This has been referred to as family farming's "non-instinct for self-preservation"
(Breimyer & Frederick, 1999).
Men are driven to succeed, with their masculinity tied to career success and the
ability to be the breadwinner and provide for their family. They are likely to be
supportive of Type A behavior, which reveres rationality and tough-mindedness. Men
show that they are in command of the situation and carry out tasks with confidence, even
when those tasks seem insurmountable (Lindsey, 1994).
Weigel (2003) theorizes that growing up male is "often characterized by an
emphasis on independence, competition, emotional restraint, and maintaining the upper
hand in relationships." Beliefs about how men ought to behave are constructed at many
levels in society and in the minds of men. This masculine identity is generated by the
media, teachers, historians, parents, and public figures and dominates how men think
about themselves. Men in any subgroup, such as farmers, tend to share the same cultural
history and have similar notions about behavior. This identity leads to four traditional
attitudes about masculinity: (1) men should not be feminine, (2) men should strive to be
respected for successful achievement, (3) men should never show weakness, and (4) men
should seek adventure and risk (Weigel, 2003). In addition to looking at the psychology
of men, investigating leadership in other agricultural organizations is important in this
review of literature, as it could possibly be a basis for leadership development in other
Kajer (1996) conducted a study with nine agricultural leaders in Minnesota
regarding their leadership experiences. Kajer found that volunteer leaders in agricultural
organizations define their leadership in a range of processes and roles, with the most
important being facilitating group cooperation and decisions. These leaders are
concerned with the struggle to maintain and build memberships, and find and develop
future leaders for agricultural organizations. With state level volunteer positions,
volunteer leadership in agricultural organizations can result in large sacrifices by the
individual in lost time with family and business and unreimbursed expenses in time and
travel. Those who do take leadership positions become energized by the experience and
dedicate much time to the organization during their key leadership position years.
Volunteer leaders believe that their leadership experiences made their lives fuller,
increased their self-esteem and expanded their horizons (Kajer, 1996).
In a study of volunteer leaders in agricultural organizations, the motivations to
serve in leadership roles in agricultural organizations were found to be a concern for
people, the responsibility to support their profession, it's something they believe in, it's
an outlet for their talents, it's a source of enjoyment and satisfaction, it's their duty to use
their talents in service to others, and they believe they owe it to their industry (Kajer,
In Kajer's study of volunteer leaders (1996), the importance of being asked to
take on a particular leadership role was emphasized. When individuals are asked to
serve, it affirms the confidence of others in their leadership abilities, which also raises
their individual self-confidence and firms their resolve not to let the people down who
asked them. Those that participated in this study felt that the "asking" could be improved
by treating it as a grooming process for leadership rather than a single request.
Respondents to the study of volunteer leaders in agricultural organizations felt
there is little involvement of women in most agricultural organizations as active members
and especially as leaders. There is a great deal of leadership potential being wasted with
the absence of women. Increased involvement of women would increase the pool of
leaders and make available the special talents and interests that women have. The "good
old boys network" continues to be a barrier for women with the stereotyping of women's
roles continued to be reinforced by both genders at the family, community, and
organization levels. A general consensus has been found that the process of breaking
down gender barriers is slower in rural communities and organizations than in society as
a whole (Kajer, 1996).
There are issues that will affect agricultural organizations and their leaders now
and in the future. One set of issues revolves around the trend to larger and fewer farms
and the effect this has on rural communities, agricultural organizations and on
agriculture's influence. Another set of issues are the challenges of technology and
information overload to members in the agricultural community especially those older
members who are not as comfortable working within technology. Leaders will need a
broader perspective on the world in the future and how agriculture fits into this larger
picture (Kajer, 1996).
Summary of Agricultural Leadership
The leaders of agricultural organizations have traditionally been male, but more
women are becoming involved in agricultural organizations and in leadership roles in
these organizations. A study conducted with leaders of agricultural organizations found
that agricultural leaders are concerned with maintaining and building memberships and
finding and developing future leaders for the organization. Changes in agriculture,
technology and demographics are issues that will affect agricultural organizations in the
This chapter focused on the areas of literature important to this study, which were:
history of Farm Bureau and agricultural organizations, political interest groups,
grassroots organizations, motivations of volunteers, organizational leadership, social
capital and agricultural leadership.
Farm Bureau is the largest general agricultural organization that represents
farmers throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. It has been representing the needs
of its members for one hundred years through grassroots efforts that begin with members
at the county level. Because of the changes in agriculture and the prominence of
commodity organizations that serve specific segments of the agricultural industry, Farm
Bureau needs to find ways to recruit, retain, and encourage its members to take on
additional leadership roles within the Farm Bureau organization.
An understanding of volunteers and what motivates individuals to join
organizations and assume roles in those organizations is necessary for organizations in
order for those organizations to more effectively utilize their volunteers and make their
efforts productive. Individuals need to identify with the organization and its members
and feel that they are accomplishing organizational objectives. Organizations should
realize that they are competing with other time pressures on an individual and should
consider restructuring volunteer tasks to meet the needs of the volunteer.
Another factor in an individual's likelihood to join and participate in an
organization is the organization itself and the leadership that guides it. Organizations
should develop the leadership within to produce new leaders for tomorrow and to
increase the leadership skills of existing leaders to make their organizations more
effective. One way to do this is to offer leadership development opportunities and
leadership training to individuals in the organization.
Agricultural organizations need to consider the motivations of volunteers and
their organizational leadership as agriculture is facing many changes, such as farm sizes,
technology and shifts in demographics. If these organizations do not take measures to
evolve with these changes, they may not remain productive and viable in the future.
Chapter 1 provided an introduction and the background of this study of the
leadership expectations and perceptions of Florida Farm Bureau members, especially
those who serve (or who may serve) on their local county boards. An overview of the
methodology used in this study, delimitations of the study, and definitions of key terms
are outlined in this chapter.
A thorough review of relevant literature was provided in Chapter 2. This
literature focused on areas which included: history of Farm Bureau and agricultural
organizations, political interest groups, grassroots organizations, volunteer motivations,
organizational leadership, social capital and agricultural leadership.
This chapter explains the methodology and data analysis used in this study. The
objectives that were identified in this study were: (1) identify selected demographics of
county Farm Bureau membership, (2) identify perceived leadership roles of county Farm
Bureau leaders by the state Farm Bureau leadership, (3) measure the extent to which
county Farm Bureau members practice the leadership expectations held by state Farm
Bureau leaders and the level of importance they assign to those skills, (4) determine
leadership attitude, will, and desire of active Florida Farm Bureau members, and (5)
determine reason why local Farm Bureau members chose to participate or not participate
in leadership roles in local county Farm Bureau boards.
In this chapter the research design used, the populations who participated in the
study, the procedures used for data collection and the statistics used to analyze the data
The research design of this study was a three-part assessment of the Florida Farm
Bureau and its membership using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The three parts of this study included:
1. A qualitative long interview of members of the state leadership of the FFBF. This
interview was the first part of the study and provided the foundation for the
leadership competency instrument given to county Farm Bureau board members.
Interview questions included their expectations of desired leadership practices and
behaviors of local board members and their expectations of what county Farm
Bureau boards should accomplish. The information provided in these interviews
accomplished the second objective of this study.
2. A quantitative survey instrument was developed by the researcher, based upon
findings from the qualitative interview and given to a random sample of members
of local Farm Bureau boards. This instrument had a list of 66 leadership
competencies, derived from the qualitative long interviews, which were divided into
four sections and each respondent rated their perceived importance and proficiency
of each. This instrument was used to accomplish the third objective of this study.
3. A quantitative leadership behavior instrument developed by the researcher and
administered to active Farm Bureau members. This instrument measured
respondent attitude/will/desire regarding leadership to determine if leadership
apathy exists. Objectives four and five were accomplished by this instrument.
A demographic section was included at the end of both quantitative instruments to
collect personal information about survey respondents. This information was used to
accomplish the first objective of this study.
Quantitative research uses objective measurement and numerical analysis of data
to explain the causes of changes in social phenomena. Qualitative research, seeks to
understand a social phenomenon through the researcher's total immersion in the situation.
Quantitative research seeks to explain, while qualitative research is more concerned with
understanding (Ary, Jacobs, and Razavieh, 1996).
Denzin and Lincoln (1994) offer a generic definition of qualitative research as
multimethod in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject
matter. Qualitative researchers study subjects in their natural settings, attempting to
make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to them. It
involves the studies use and collection of a variety of empirical materials-case study,
personal experience, introspective, life stories, interviews, observational, historical,
interactional, and visual texts that describe routine and problematic moments and
meanings in individuals' lives.
Qualitative research does not have a distinct set of methods that are entirely its
own. Researchers in this field use semiotics, narrative, content, discourse, archival, and
phonemic analysis, and even statistics (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994). In reporting
qualitative data, one includes conceptual and theoretical framework, purpose and
questions, research methodologies, findings, and a discussion section (Rudd, 1998).
Qualitative studies seek to answer questions that stress how social experience is created
and given meaning (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994).
Ary et al., (1996) state that both qualitative and quantitative research aim at a type
of scientific explanation that includes the discovery of and appeal to laws-laws that
govern the behavior of the physical world and human behavior. Rudd (1998) describes
the attributes of qualitative research as providing a deep understanding of what is being
researched, generating a deeper understanding of the phenomena, and providing another
perspective for research. In qualitative research, researchers seek to interpret human
actions, institutions, events, and customs and in doing so, they construct a "reading" or
portrayal of what is being studied. The ultimate goal is to portray the complex pattern of
what is being studied in sufficient depth and detail so that one who has not experienced it
can understand it (Ary et al., 1996).
Survey research can be classified as quantitative research in which instruments
such as questionnaires are used to gather information from groups of subjects. Surveys
are used to measure attitudes and opinions of respondents and are widely used in the
social sciences (Ary et al., 1996). Regardless of whether a survey is qualitative or
quantitative, it must be reliable (consistent) and valid (accurate) to ensure the accuracy
and truthfulness of the findings.
Ary et al., (1996) describe validity as the extent to which an instrument measures
what it is intended to measure. Reliability is the extent to which a measuring device is
consistent in measuring whatever it measures. Vogt (1999) defines validity as a term
used to describe a measurement instrument or test that accurately measures what it is
suppose to measure. Reliability is defined as the freedom from measurement or random
error. For qualitative data, the measurement instrument is said to be reliable when
repeated measures of the same thing give identical or similar results. This reliability can
be measured for the quantitative data using statistical software packages.
A long interview made up the first phase of the study. Long interviews are a
more formal, orderly interview process that the researcher can direct to a range of
intentions (Glesne, 1999). Researchers ask questions in the context of purposes generally
known only to themselves, while the respondents, who possess the information the
researchers are seeking, answer the questions in the context of dispositions (motives,
values, concerns, needs) that the researchers need to unravel to clarify the words that their
questions generated. Long interviews can be the basis for later data collection (which is
the case for this research project) as in the form of a questionnaire, which is the next step
outlined in this process (Glesne, 1999).
Long interviews were chosen as they yield a high percentage of returns, as people
are willing to cooperate with the research agenda. Information derived from interviews is
likely to be correct than data obtained by other sources as the interviewer can clear up
inaccurate answers by explaining the questions more thoroughly (Miller, 1991). This
method is also advantageous as the researcher can chose and control those who answers
the questions, important in this study as the state Farm Bureau organization initiated this
needs assessment, so it is important to obtain the ideas and thoughts of the state
leadership of this organization.
The qualitative interviews of the state Farm Bureau leadership underwent content
analysis to provide the information used in the qualitative instrument given to county
board members. Interviewing can be used to produce data for academic analysis and for
the purpose of measurement or for understanding of an individual or group perspective.
It is used as an attempt to understand the complex behavior of individuals without
imposing any categorization that may limit the field of inquiry (Fontana & Frey, 1994).
Keppel and Zedeck (1989) describe content analysis as an examination of spoken or
written material for the purpose of classifying or coding of the information. Content
analysis is a quantitatively oriented technique by which standardized measurements are
used to characterize and compare documents (Manning & Cullum-Swan, 1994).
There were several steps in the content analysis of these interview questionnaires.
The first step was the complete transcription of the seven interviews. The responses for
each question were then grouped together. From the groups of responses for each
question, four themes emerged. Responses were then grouped into these four theme
areas and from there, the duplicate responses were eliminated. From the remaining
responses in each area, the competencies were derived from the responses for the county
board member instrument.
The quantitative portion of this study utilized survey research methods, with the
first part a questionnaire developed from the responses of the long interviews and
administered to county Farm Bureau board members. An additional leadership behavior
instrument was developed to examine leadership attitude/will/desire within members.
This instrument was administered to a sample of active Florida Farm Bureau members.
Ary et al., (1996) describe a survey as a research technique in which data are
gathered by asking questions of a group of individuals called respondents. Survey
research asks questions about the nature, incidence, or distribution of variables and/or the
relationships among those variables. No manipulation is attempted on the variables, only
descriptions of variables and their relationships as they naturally occur.
All three survey instruments used in this study were pilot tested to ensure validity.
Pilot tests are a form ofpre-testing in which subjects from the sample population are
given the instrument and provide feedback to determine if the instrument is measuring
what it is suppose to measure (Black, 1999). Members of the pilot test groups were taken
from the same as the groups who would be receiving the three individual instruments.
Findings of this study determined what Farm Bureau is doing and what it needs to
do to make local board members more effective in their county Farm Bureau's and also
in their communities. The findings will be used as the state Farm Bureau organization is
interested in developing a leadership program for its members, especially those serving
on the local county boards. Results of this study will provide the state organization with
the information needed to develop programs tailored to the needs of members.
This study took place in several locations and covered a five-month period, from
January 2004 to May 2004. The development of the interview schedule occurred in early
January and was completed early February 2004. The survey instrument developed from
these interviews was pilot tested in March, then sent out to all local board members at the
end of March 2004. The third and final part of this study, the leadership behavior
instrument was developed and pilot tested in March 2004 and then was mailed to a
sample of Florida Farm Bureau active members in late March 2004 with the responses
collected until the middle of May 2004.
For this study, one population, the Florida Farm Bureau organization, was used.
Three subsets of this population were included in this population. The first subset was
the leadership of the FFBF, which included: the president of the board of directors,
administrative and legal counsel, director of the agricultural policy division, director of
public relations, the vice president of the board of directors, the coordinator of national
affairs, and the executive director of the Dade County Farm Bureau. These individuals
participated in the first part of this study, individual interviews using a long interview
format. These interviews asked the organizational leaders to explain what they expect
from county board members and what they want these board members and county boards
The second subset of the population was composed of members of local county
Farm Bureau boards. A sample of this sub-population completed the survey derived from
the state leader responses to the interview questionnaires. This portion of the study
determined existing board member leadership behavior. Salant and Dillman (1994)
describe how a sample size is chosen. There are approximately 666 county Farm Bureau
board members in Florida (FFBF, 2004). Using a table provided by Salant and Dillman
(1994), the researcher chose a 50/50 split with a 5% sampling error, a sample of 279
individuals was chosen (p. 55). The researcher was given the names and addresses of all
county board members and randomly chose 279 participants to receive the survey. They
were chosen through a process of systematic sampling, with the first element in the
sample chosen from a random numbers table. After that number was chosen, every other
individual on the list was included in the survey.
The third subset of the population was a sample of active Florida Farm Bureau
members. The researcher was given a computer generated random list of active members
and mailed surveys to 419 of these members. In this study, one of the subsets of the
population was the active members of Florida Farm Bureau. The size of this subset is
36,100 (P. Cockrell, personal communication, September 10, 2002). Using a 50/50 split
with a 5% sampling error, 419 members of this subpopulation were selected to
participate in this part of the study.
The basic survey procedure outlined in Salant and Dillman (1994) was used for
the data collection of the two subset populations of board members and active members.
This survey procedure is comprised of four separate mailings. The first is a personalized,
advance notice letter, which is mailed to all members of the sample. This letter explained
to the individuals that they were selected for the survey and that they will be receiving a
questionnaire. The second mailing was mailed a week later. It included a personalized
cover letter, which explained the survey, their rights as survey subjects, a survey
instrument, and a stamped return envelope. Exactly six days after the second mailing, a
postcard was sent to each participant thanking those who had sent back their survey and
requesting a response from those who had not yet responded. Three weeks after the
second mailing a third mailing was sent out to all those who had not responded. It
included a personalized letter again explaining the importance of their returning the
survey, a replacement survey, and another stamped return envelope.
This procedure was used to produce an acceptable response rate so as to try to
avoid nonresponse error. The response rate for the qualitative interview was 100%, 46%
for county board members, and 25% for active members. As Ary, Jacobs, and Razavieh
(1996) state "using information only from those who choose to respond can introduce
error, because the respondents represent a self-selected group that may not represent the
views of the entire sample or population" (p. 460). Research has shown that respondents
differ from nonrespondents and the extent of this difference should be determined. For
this study, early and late respondents were compared as late respondents are similar to
those who do not respond at all (Ary, Jacobs, & Razavieh, 1996). Those who responded
to the survey early (after the first survey was sent to them) were compared to those who
responded late (after the follow-up survey was sent). Differences were examined in the
responses of these groups to determine if there were any significant differences between
the responses, the differences examined include survey responses and demographic
information. There were no significant differences found in the surveys of the early and
late respondents, which indicates that it was an unbiased sample of recipients.
Instruments Used in Data Collection
Three instruments were used in the data collection for this study. The first was an
interview questionnaire found in Appendix C. This questionnaire was developed by the
researcher and sought to determine the competencies and skills that were perceived by
the leadership of the state Farm Bureau organization as necessary leadership attributes
that local county board members should have to make them effective members of their
county boards. These questions also were used to determine from the state leadership the
perceived needs of the county boards, the perceived needs of the Farm Bureau
organization, and the needs of Farm Bureau members. There were 16 questions used for
this interview and based on interviews with Farm Bureau leadership and from a review of
This instrument was evaluated by a panel of experts for content and validity and
pilot tested with a comparable group of leaders from two other state Farm Bureaus.
These pilot tests were conducted over the telephone and lasted approximately one hour.
The interviews were transcribed by the researcher and analyzed for content. Minor
changes were made to the interview questionnaire from the results of the pilot test.
This questionnaire was administered by the researcher to leaders of the Florida
Farm Bureau organization. Five of these interviews took place in person in the state
Farm Bureau headquarters in Gainesville, Florida and two took place by telephone, and
all were recorded for later transcription. This transcription occurred soon after the
interviews and themes were examined in the responses. Four themes emerged from these
interviews and served as a basis for the instrument that was developed for county board
The second instrument was developed by the researcher from the responses of the
long interviews. Respondents of this survey questionnaire (Appendix D) were local Farm
Bureau county board members. This instrument was pilot tested with a group of county
board members who were not included in the final sample. From the content analysis of
the long interviews with state Farm Bureau officials, a list of 100 competencies were
identified in four areas: leadership, political process, knowledge of Farm Bureau, and
effective boards. Participants were asked to rate the importance of each competency to
the success of a county board using a Likert scale ranging from 1 (low importance) to 7
(high importance). In addition, how proficient they felt they were, was also rated on a
Likert scale ranging from 1 (low importance) to 7 (high importance). After pilot testing
this instrument and analyzing the data, the list of competencies was reduced to 66 across
the four construct areas. A conceptual model for this part of the study depicting the
relationship between the competencies found in the first part of the study and what makes
a successful board member is presented in Figure 3-1. This model represents that being a
successful board member is a function of competencies in the four theme areas.
SBM f (L, + Pc + Ec + K)
Successful Leadership Political Effective Knowledge
Board Member Process Boards of Farm Bureau
Figure 3-1. Competencies Necessary for Successful Board Members.
The third instrument (Appendix E) used in this study was a leadership behavior
instrument which was composed of three parts: a motivation sources inventory, a
semantic differential scale to measure volunteering attitudes, and a Likert scale inventory
to assess respondents' desire about serving on a county board. The motivation sources
inventory was developed by Barbuto and Scholl (1998) and measures the sources of
motivation. The authors developed this inventory to predict behaviors of individuals and
it was used in this context as a factor that contributes to members will to serve (or not to
serve) on their county Farm Bureau boards.
Because county board members are volunteers, a semantic differential was
constructed to obtain participants' attitudes on volunteering. Vogt (1999) defines a
semantic differential scale as "a question format in an interview or survey in which
respondents are asked to locate their attitudes on a scale ranging between opposite
positions on a particular issue" (p. 261). This scale is a combination of scaling
procedures and controlled association that provides the subject with a concept, in this
case volunteering, to be differentiated and a set of bipolar adjectival scales against which
to do it. The participant is asked to indicate for each item, the direction of their
association and its intensity on a seven-step scale (Osgood, Suci, & Tannenbaum, 1971.)
Twelve adjective pairs were used in the semantic differential used in this scale.
The third part of this instrument was a Likert scale, which measured participants'
desire about serving on their local county Farm Bureau boards. This part of the
researcher-developed instrument consisted of twelve statements which participants were
asked to rate from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
From the literature, motivation factors, attitudes on volunteering and demographic
variables have been identified as influences on participation in organizations and whether
individuals will step forth for additional leadership responsibilities within these
organizations. These contribute to the attitude/will/desire that was measured by this
instrument in the third part of this study. A conceptual model which represents this part
of the study is provided in Figure 3-2. In this model, leadership is a function of
motivation factors, volunteering attitudes, a desire to serve and demographic variables.
L f(M + V + S + D)
(Leadership) Motivation Factors Volunteering Desire Demographic
Attitudes to Serve Variables
Internal Self-Concept Evaluative Gender
External Self-Concept Potency Age
Intrinsic Process Activity Marital Status
Belong to Orgs.
(Will) (Attitude) (Desire)
Figure 3-2. Factors which Influence Individuals Participation in Leadership
An informed consent letter for study participants and a proposal of this study was
submitted to the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB) for their review.
The IRB approved the proposal for this study and the instruments that were used to
collect data (Protocol #2003-U-992). A copy of the informed consent letter was signed
by interviewees before they participated in the long interviews. For the other two
participant groups, they were informed of their rights as research subjects in a letter they
received explaining the survey and the importance of their participation. Data collection
began once IRB approved this study.
Various methods of data collection and analyses were conducted in this study.
Responses from the long interviews underwent content analysis. McCracken (1988)
described the qualitative researcher's goal in long interviews is to isolate and define
categories during the process of research. Patterns of interrelationships between
categories are examined. Using the same interview questions for each respondent
ensures that the investigator covers all the terrain in the same order for each respondent.
The first step in this analysis was the transcription of the interview answers. The object
of this analysis was to determine the relationships, categories and assumptions that
inform the respondent's view of the world in general and the topic in particular
(McCracken, 1988). The analysis conducted identified themes in the responses that were
subsequently used in the development of the competencies used in the survey instrument
given to local county board members. The information provided by this content analysis
was used in objective two; identify perceived leadership roles of county Farm Bureau
leaders by the state Farm Bureau leadership.
Data analysis of the two survey instruments was used to explain and predict
leader involvement. The demographic information collected from both surveys was used
to accomplish the first research objective, identify demographics of county Farm Bureau
members. Independent variables, age, gender, years of membership in Farm Bureau,
membership in other agricultural organizations, membership in other organizations,
membership in leadership and youth development organizations, marital status, children,
agricultural income and farm size was analyzed. Selected independent variables were
used with other data as predictors of participation on county Farm Bureau boards.
The leadership competency instrument that was developed for county board
members was used to accomplish objective three, measure the extent to which county
Farm Bureau members practice the leadership expectations held by state Farm Bureau
leaders and the level of importance they assign to those skills. This instrument was
comprised of four competency sections: (1) 15 leadership, (2) 20 political process, (3) 15
effective boards, and (4) 16 knowledge of Farm Bureau. The mean and standard
deviation was calculated for the importance and proficiency of each competency section.
Determine leadership attitude, will, and desire of active Florida Farm Bureau
members was accomplished in objective four, by analyzing the data of each section of the
instrument. A mean and standard deviation was found for the motivation sources
inventory and the semantic differential. A reliability analysis was conducted on the
Likert scale about perceptions of serving on county boards.
Multiple linear regression was used in the accomplishment of objective five,
determine reason why local Farm Bureau members chose to participate or not participate
in leadership roles in local county Farm Bureau boards. Vogt (1999) describes regression
analysis as a predictor for whether something will happen or not, such as graduation,
business failure, or in this case, participation on a county board. Regression is used to
determine the nature of the relationship between a dependent variable and more than one
independent variable (Black, 1999). For this analysis, the dependent variable is
participation on a county board, and the independent variables are: the four motivation
factors from the motivation sources inventory, the three factors about attitude on
volunteering from the semantic differential, attitude about serving on a county board, and
the following demographic variables: motivation internal self-concept factor, evaluative
volunteering factor, activity volunteering factor, belonging to other organizations,
children, member of 4-H, member of other youth development organizations,
participation in leadership development programs, and agricultural income from
This chapter explained the research methods that were used in this research design
conducted for the FFBF. This study was conducted in three-parts, which included: long
interviews, a leadership instrument developed from these interviews, and a leadership
behavior instrument developed to measure leadership attitude/will/desire. Demographic
information was also collected from individuals which was used to in the data analysis.
Results of these methods will be presented in the next chapter.
This study examined the need for individuals to step forward and assume
leadership positions within a changing agricultural industry. The purpose of this study
was to examine the leadership expectations and perceptions of Florida Farm Bureau
Chapter one provided the background to this study, the problem statement, and
significance of this study, definitions of key terms and several limitations to the study.
The objectives of the study were: (1) identify demographics of county Farm Bureau
membership, (2) identify perceived leadership roles of county Farm Bureau leaders by
the state Farm Bureau leadership, (3) measure the extent to which county Farm Bureau
members practice the leadership expectations held by state Farm Bureau leaders, (4)
determine leadership attitude, will, and desire of active Florida Farm Bureau members,
and (5) determine reason why local Farm Bureau members chose to participate or not
participate in leadership roles in local county Farm Bureau boards.
The theoretical and conceptual framework for this study was found in Chapter
two. This framework focused on research in seven areas: the history of the Farm Bureau
and other agricultural organizations, political interest groups, grassroots organizations,
organizational leadership, motivations of volunteers, social capital and agricultural
The research methodology used in this study was described in Chapter three. The
research design, research participants, instruments used in data collection and data
analysis procedures were described.
This chapter will present the findings of the study, which are organized in order of
the research objectives.
Identify Demographics of County Farm Bureau Membership
Results from the demographic information section found at the end of each of the
quantitative instruments (Appendices D-E) are reported separately for the two groups due
to differences found between the demographic variables of active members and county
board members. Please note the change in population number (n) for each table. Several
respondents in both groups did not fill out portions of the demographic information
sections found in both instruments. The total number of board members who responded
to the survey was 129 (46%) and the total number of active members was 104 (25%).
Table 4-1 provides information on gender, marital status and children of
participants in both groups. Of the 129 board members who responded to this survey,
88.4% (n=114) were male and 11.6% (n=15) were female. For the active survey, of the
100 who completed this demographic variable, 69% (n=69) were male and 31% (n=31)
were female. According to the 2002 Census ofAgriculture, 11% of principal operators
on farms were women, while 89% were men (USDA, 2004). Those numbers reflect the
county board members who responded to the survey.
Married board members made up 86% (n=l 11) of the board member population.
Single board members accounted for 14% (n=18) of the population. Of the active
members who participated in the study, 68.3% (n=69) were married.
Large percentages of both groups had children, 93.8% (n=121) for board
members and 84.2% (n=85) for active members. When combined, 90% (n=206) of
respondents to both surveys had children.
Table 4-1 Demographic Variables for Gender, Marital Status, & Children of Active and
Board Members (N=233)
Board (N=129) Active (N=104) Total (N=233)
n % n % n %
Male 114 88.4 69 69 183 80
Female 15 11.6 31 31 46 20
Married 111 86 69 68.3 180 78
Single 18 14 32 31.7 50 22
Children 121 93.8 85 84.2 206 90
No Children 8 6.2 16 15.8 24 10
Note: Missing variables (Active = 4)
Those who serve on Farm Bureau boards have been a Farm Bureau member for
an average of 21.4 years. The average number of years in Farm Bureau for active
members who completed this survey was 14.5 years. Years of membership in Farm
Bureau can be found in Table 4-2.
Table 4-2 Years of Membership in Farm Bureau for Active and Board Members (N=220)
Mean 21.4 14.5
Minimum 1 .30
Maximum 62 64
Member for 0-10 years 33.6 50.5
Member for 11 to 25 years 33.6 37.9
Member for 26 to 64 years 32.8 11.6
Note: Missing variables (Board = 4; Active = 9)
Board members who have belonged to Farm Bureau for zero to ten years is 33.6%
(n=42), while 50.5% (n=48) of active members have belonged to Farm Bureau for this
time range. Those who have been a member for 11 to 25 years are 33.6% (n=42) for
board members and 37.9% (n=36) for active members. The third range of membership,
26 to 64 years, has 32.8% (n=41) of board members and 11.6% (n= 11) of active
members. A graphic representation for years of membership in Farm Bureau for both
groups can be found in Figure 4-1.
0 0 0 0 40 50 60 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Active Members Board Members
Figure 4-1. Comparisons of Years of Membership in Farm Bureau (Active N=95,
M=14.50, SD=11.90; Board N=125, M=21.38, SD=14.94)
Family involvement in Farm Bureau was also examined with 73.4% (n=91) of
board members indicating that they were part of another generation of Farm Bureau as
their family had been involved in Farm Bureau, while only 17% (n=17) of active
members indicated that their family was involved in Farm Bureau. Table 4-3 represents
the involvement of family in Farm Bureau and demonstrates that board members have a
much greater percentage of family who have been involved in Farm Bureau than active
Table 4-3 Family Involved in Farm Bureau for Active and Board Members (N=224)
Yes 73.4 17.0
No 26.6 83
Family Involved in FB from 0 to 25 Years 56.2 92.8
Family Involved in FB from 26 to 50 Years 40 5.1
Family Involved in FB from 51 to 80 Years 3.8 2.1
Note: Missing variables (Board = 5; Active = 4)
On average, Farm Bureau board members spend 8.4 hours per month on Farm
Bureau activities, which includes participating in meetings, activities, events and
conventions and reading information in support of these activities. Active members
spend considerably less time than board members, only a quarter of an hour per month on
average. Farm Bureau board members attended, on average, 11.7 Farm Bureau events in
the past year, while active members only attended an average of 0.3 events for the past
year. Table 4-4 represents the time devoted and events attended for both groups.
Table 4-4 Time Devoted to Farm Bureau for Active and Board Members (N=215)
Mean Number of Hours Per Month 8.4 0.4
Minimum Number of Hours Per Month 0 0
Maximum Number of Hours Per Month 82 8
Mean Number of FB Events Attended Last Year 11.7 0.3
Minimum Number of FB Events Attended Last Year 2 0
Maximum Number of FB Events Attended Last Years 40 6
Note: Missing variables (Board = 6; Active = 12)
There were several demographic questions that were only asked of county board
members. These questions reflected their length of time on their county board, if they
had been president of their county Farm Bureau board and if they had been on the Florida
Farm Bureau Federation board. Table 4-5 represents the first of these questions for board
members, the length of time (in years) they have served on their county boards. County
board members have served an average of 11.5 years on their county boards. This table
shows that over 60% of county board members have been on their boards for up to ten
years, while over 14% have been on their board for longer then twenty years.
Table 4-5 Length of Time (in years) on Farm Bureau Board (N=126)
0.5 to 5 Years 53 42.1
6 to 10 Years 25 19.8
11 to 15 Years 18 14.3
16 to 20 Years 12 9.5
20 and More Years 18 14.3
Note: Missing variables (Board = 3)
One-third of county board members have served as president of their county Farm
Bureau board 33.6% (n=43) and less then 10% (n=10) have served on the Florida Farm
Bureau Federation Board. Table 4-6 reflects those that have served in these higher
Table 4-6 Board Members Who Have Served as President of County Farm Bureau Board
and/or on the Florida Farm Bureau Federation Board(N=128)
n % n %
Served as County President 85 66.4 43 33.6
Served on Florida Farm Bureau Federation Board 118 92.2 10 7.8
Note: Missing variables (Board = 1)
Many organizations represent components of agriculture and Table 4-7 shows the
involvement of both board and active members in other agricultural organizations. Board
members seem to be more active in other organizations 71.4% (n=90) than do active
members 10% (n=10). For those that are involved, board members belong to an average
of 1.9 other agricultural organizations, while active members belong to an average of 0.5
agricultural organizations. Board members belong to a greater number of organizations
as well, as the maximum number was 11 with a maximum of only 5 for active members.
Of those board members who were involved in other agricultural organizations, 42.1%
(n=53) held leadership roles in these organizations, while only 4% (n=4) of active
members held leadership positions in other agricultural organizations.
Table 4-7 Involvement with other Agricultural Organizations for Active and Board
n % n %
Involvement with Other Ag. Organizations
Yes 90 71.4 10 10
No 36 28.6 90 90
Leadership Role in Agricultural Organizations
Yes 53 42.1 4 4
No 73 57.9 96 96
Mean Number of Agricultural Organizations 1.9 .5
Minimum Number of Agricultural Organizations 1 1
Maximum Number of Agricultural Organizations 11 5
Note: Missing variables (Board = 3; Active = 4)
Individuals are also involved in other civic, community, and business
organizations and Table 4-8 represents the level of involvement by board and active
members. Both groups are involved with other organizations, 63.8% (n=81) of board
members and 42.6% (n=43) of active members are involved in at least one civic,
community or business organization. On average, active members belonged to 0.9
additional organizations, while board members belonged to 1.9 additional organizations.
Of the over one-third of board members who did belong to additional organizations, 37%
(n=47) held leadership roles in these organizations, while 18.8% (n=19) of active
members held leadership positions in civic, community, and business organizations.
Table 4-8 Involvement with other Organizations (N=228)
n % n %
Mean Number of Boards 1.1 0.3
Minimum Number of Boards 1 1
Maximum Number of Boards 7 5
Note: Missing variables (Board = 2; Active = 4)
The age characteristics of board and active members can be found on Table 4-10.
The mean ages for both groups are approximately equivalent, 51.4 years for board
Yes 81 63.8 43 42.6
No 45 35.4 58 57.4
Leadership Role in Organizations
Yes 47 37 19 18.8
No 80 63 82 81.2
Mean Number of Organizations 1.9 0.9
Minimum Number of Organizations 1 1
Maximum Number of Organizations 8 6
Note: Missing variables (Board = 2; Active = 3)
Slightly over half of the board members 53.5% (n=68) were currently serving on
the board of other organizations, while only 16% (n=16) of active members were on the
boards of other organizations. The mean number of additional boards that county Farm
Bureau board members were serving on was 1.1 boards, while the number for active
members was 0.3. These figures are represented by Table 4-9.
Table 4-9 Active and Board Members Currently Serving on Boards of other
(n =127) (n =100)
n % n %
Yes 68 53.5 16 16
No 59 46.5 84 84
members and 50.9 years for active members. A graphic representation of the
distributions of ages for both groups is presented in Figure 4-2. Close to fifty percent of
active members, 48.5% (n=33) are between 43 to 60 years old, while 33% (n=36) of
board members fall within this age range. A graphic representation of the distributions of
ages for both groups is presented in Figure 4-2.
Table 4-10 Age of Active and Board Members (N=177)
(n =109) (n =68)
Mean Age 51.4 50.9
Minimum Age 21 19
Maximum Age 83 87
n % n %
19 to 42 Years Old 36 33% 19 27.9%
43 to 60 Years Old 36 33% 33 48.5%
61 to 87 Years Old 37 33.9% 16 23.5%
Note: Missing variables (Board = 20; Active = 36)
20 40 60 80 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Age Distribution of Active Members Age Distribution of Board Members
Figure 4-2. Age Distributions of Active and Board Members (Active N=68, M=50.90,
SD=14.32; Board N=109, M=51.40, SD=15.26)