Working Draft November 4, 1991
N6RTH ONTRAL FLORIDA
TRANSITION, TRADITION, TECHNOLOGY, TRAUMA...
A Proposal for Institutional and Policy Research
Chris O. Andrew
Food and Resource Economics Department
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
I. Problem Setting ..........................
Decline and Efficiency ..................
Regional Transition ....................
Market Failure ........................
Regional Imperative ....................
Institutional Service ....................
Professional Responsibility ...............
II. A Brief Characterization of North Central Florida
Boundaries and Demographics .............
Income and Employment .................
Agriculture and Natural Resources .........
Conceptual Model for Study of Rural Systems ..
Some Systems Thought ...................
Institutional Source Models ................
An Analytical Meta Model ................
Interaction Domains .....................
People as Action Conditioners ..............
Organizations as Action Conditioners ........
Process as an Action Conditioner ...........
Knowledge Workers ...................
People and the Institution .................
Final Comment .........................
. .............. ....... 29
IV. A Modest Research Proposal ......................................... 37
Problem Statement ................................................. 37
Research Hypotheses ................................................ 38
Research Objectives ................................................. 39
Research Principles/Cautions .......................................... 40
Research Procedures ................. ............................... 40
Study Units and Variable Specification .................................. 44
V. Research Resources ................................................. 51
Cooperative Proposal .............................................. 51
Human Resources ................. ................................. 52
Initial Budget ................. .................................... 52
NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA:
TRANSITION, TRADITION, TECHNOLOGY, TRAUMA...
A Proposal for Institutional and Policy Research
'Wisdom does not inspect, but behold.
We must look a long time before we can see."
I. PROBLEM SETTING
Redefinition of problems confronting North Florida's rural economy is the reason for this
statement and proposal. It is time for institutional and policy economists, with the help of supporting
sciences and our clients, to generate some new understanding and cause some new decisions to better
assist the rural/urban clientele of North Florida. A time for entrepreneurial activity by policy
researchers is at hand. The following is an attempt to build a process that will speak for the clients
through compromise and collaboration. Fact finding, constraints identification, analysis and
consensus based in coalitions may help achieve sustainable urban/rural revitalization.
Decline and Efficiency
It would seem that agricultural decline in North Florida is endemic to the region. Low income
rural communities are predominant in North Florida. Loss of economic base is common and most
communities cannot keep pace with the rest of Florida and the national economy. This is not unique
to Florida. Other states are confronted with areas of low income agriculture and eroding rural
The decline in North Florida is evident in out-migration of farm families, in in-migration of part-
time farm families and in reduction of on-farm income supplemented by off-farm employment.
Major commodity price fluctuations and resulting income instability cause relatively rapid entry and
exit of enterprises within the farm system.
Accompanying the decline are well-intentioned but rarely consistent and persistent attempts to
bolster the agricultural economy, particularly through appropriate agricultural technology. The
research process leads to the development of technologies, often assumed to be appropriate throughout
the state of Florida, and encourages their application generally to farm enterprises in North Florida.
Also review of the intellectual history of support to North Florida reveals allegiance to concepts of
efficiency. Concerns related to ecological change are now emerging. Yet research generally continues
to identify most efficient production potentials for the area on assumptions of scale neutrality and
manageable environmental impact, if considered at all. These conditions of converging conflicts in
institutional interaction, taken from one of many institutional settings within the region, may
encourage decline. Certainly the stage is set for transition.
In many high transition, low income areas in the United States there is a breakdown of the
community and the beginnings of a rootless citizen dilemma. The political economy and socio-
cultural basis for a community is stressed further by emergence of rootless citizens. In North Florida
this situation is evident not only in decline and out-migration but also in migration to the region. The
new populace can be beneficial while introducing new socio-economic and cultural orientations if a
community emerges. Tradition, however, is confronted directly with transition in social, cultural and
economic terms. In-migration and change often contribute to a weak sense of community and a lack
of strong recognized leadership to assist in confronting community-wide problems. The extent to
which this may be true in North Florida is not well documented.
Florida, and particularly North Florida, is confronted with a unique transition challenge. While
North Florida serves as the corridor of entry to one of the fastest growing states in the United States,
it also accumulates new families who intend to make their life in the rural North Florida setting.
Some North Florida in-migrants are moving from South Florida primarily for socio-economic reasons.
As a whole, according to Florida Trend magazine, 20% of the State of Florida's population has lived
less than five years in the State; some 4.4% have been in the state for less than one year. On a
statewide basis it is estimated that nearly half the population lives in areas where a sense of
community no longer exists or where one has not emerged.
A transition, within the traditional communities of the North Florida region, challenges
institutions, organizations, approaches and people to develop and manage a viable socio-economic
environment. The loss of a sense of community (a concept termed transition community by Samersan
from his work in Wisconsin) calls for comprehensive conceptual and program orientations to economic
development and planning. Design and implementation of plans can go beyond the community level
to encompass regional issues and broad-based policy interactions, institutional linkages, organizational
collaboration and, possibly most important, facilitative participation by people across communities.
To maintain or regain a sense of community and reduce the atomized and rootless tendency within
North Florida's society will require concerted, integrated and collaborative effort at all levels. A
starting point could be an adequate systems-oriented knowledge base because the current need for
services and security extends beyond the reach of traditional markets as well as the neoclassical tools
of market analysts.
To place responsibility for the North Florida situation on the policy and institutional fabric or
specific organizations would be an injustice, a serious error and an easy excuse. The dynamics of
change in North Florida mirror changes in rural America. Rapid urbanization and development of
Florida, with emphasis on the commercial and technical agriculture of South Florida as well as the
rapidly expanding tourist sector, do contribute however to the need for unique support systems.
Florida is placed in a position of being at the cutting edge of the rural community problem in the
The land-grant institution, Florida and nationally, is confronted with fragmented markets for
services. Because of market failure in the political economy, supply and demand adjustments often
fail to provide adequate signals for the necessary realignments to support the transition community.
Market failure also enters the institutional and organizational response fabric through natural resource
use and human resource behavior. But even with adequate signals, the land-grant institution may be
reticent to respond.
The land-grant institution is steeped in tradition, as are many institutions, so change becomes more
and more difficult with time. The land-grant institution is not able to respond readily to market
needs for research, education and development primarily because of: highly qualified human
resources directed more to serving peers than the populous; administrative orientation to self and
institutional preservation; cumbersome management due to high degrees of scientific specialization
often coupled with increasing administrative centralization; and a resulting, sometimes well-
intentioned but unknowing, intervention by state authorities. No longer is it possible to provide single
technology solutions to mono-cultural or single commodity situations without regard to a host of other
systemic linkages that extend from the micro unit of the farm to the macro economic and societal
sphere of the state and its citizens. Departure from traditional processes and structures is necessary
if missions of the land-grant institutions are to serve the emerging urban/rural, or is it rural/urban,
clientele. The market for services to meet the needs of the rural and urban household is dynamic and
without good definition. Should we wonder that the supply of services and the demand seem to be
moving rapidly away from some social equilibrium? Florida, due to numerous unique and urgent
conditions, is compelled to confront this challenge as a national and international leader. To delay
is to abdicate an opportunity for directed and systematic change by resorting to random and
inconsistent interventions. To delay also threatens to place in jeopardy the U.S. universities'
important role in rural and urban change.
Well-intentioned policies, programs and management decisions aspire to serve the North Florida
region but draw unexpected and chaotic responses. National agricultural policies, for example,
intending to provide commodity support, may have kept the region from becoming competitive or
adjusting to other commodities where a competitive advantage might have emerged. Seemingly
unobtrusive decisions to make organizational adjustments may affect employment in adverse ways.
A case in point would be the closing of the Monticello-IFAS Research Station which includes only
four researchers, two of which happen to live in Tallahassee. This would appear to be a minor
adjustment until one considers that some 14 career service people support the Center through their
employment and provide income, services and leadership to programs in the small Monticello
community. Similar examples can be given in the business community, many of which also support
socio-economic decline. At the same time, various tax policies that alter the relationship between
property taxes and sales taxes injure a community's ability to invest. If sales taxes are assumed to be
a local revenue solution even though many of the services rendered to community citizens are
purchased through larger metropolitan areas beyond the local and county boundaries, the tax policy
has worked for socio-economic decline. That is, the policy has served to enhance economic well-
being for a relatively well-off area at the expense of resource transfers from the relatively less well-
off area. Long-standing policies directed to aid small counties must be re-evaluated relative to
financial and socio-economic balance of a region where some areas continually become less remote
due to communication technologies, transportation linkages and socio-economic opportunities that
are available in larger metropolitan areas.
The territorial imperative then is to address the issues and people as they stand within the
community and region, and to differentiate expected results of joint and separate regional, state and
national policies. More knowledge about the impact of policies from outside the region on regional
activity is necessary for those who make external policy decisions. For example, low property tax
rates for outside owners of idle resources held in long-term speculation such as land investments
further reduces the short-term local revenue base which contributes to inadequate funding for
services and ultimately local decline. To the other extreme, heavy outside investments of an
extractive nature, while important to short-term economic stability often overlook resulting resource
use problems that represent future corrective and conservation costs for which the economic base may
be inadequate. Inter-generational responsibility may compel us to become more directed by the
"ethics of place" and a territorial imperative for future generations who will live in North Florida.
Ultimately the opportunity confronting rural and urban revitalization focuses on a challenge to
revitalize institutional linkages and services. Will the programs have a separate independent focus or
will they integrate commodity issues in agriculture, resource issues in the region, and enterprise and
employment alternatives for farmers and rural non-farm entrepreneurs? Will the programs emerge
from broad-based institutional services and policies, human and natural resource interactions and an
understanding of socio-cultural change? Will there be a systems orientation? If it is to be the holistic
perspective presented through institutional services that are gauged to serve a sustainable and
productive resource base as well as socio-cultural change, then serious investments are necessary in
understanding policy and institutional needs of rural communities. To present most research and
development funds have been focused on micro units and components of poorly understood firm,
community and regional systems.
Service institutions have a responsibility for understanding and communicating policy voids and
for helping improve policy formulation processes. The role of local government and the concept of
how a locality, community or region is represented by government is a growing problem.
Infrastructure to support a small and dynamic socio-economic environment often is inadequate to
meet local needs. Input suppliers, including finance people, may be compelled, or desire, to perform
their services in isolation from adequate knowledge for management of viable businesses. The
expanding impact of national and international competition for local products and services further
complicates local market needs. Issues related to the failure of the market to reflect the need for
sustainable resource use further challenge the institutional service complex. Waste management, for
example, has many implications for the local community that require multi-level government
participation extending from the federal to county and city governments even in the North Central
Florida region. Finally, the technology innovation process, including research, extension and service
organizations, is challenged to become responsive to ever-changing and dynamic needs of a
transitional rural-urban community.
Utilization of the local resource base in consonance with an institutional service potential involves
integrated conditions that are difficult to address from a policy perspective. This challenge includes
environmental and ecological concerns that confront efficiency goals with an emerging social
awareness of inter-generational responsibility for a sustainable resource base. Provision for
educational and health facilities in rural communities is challenged by numerous professional and
governmental policies and programs that maintain better services per capital in the large urban areas
than are available in the rural communities. Out-migration, either permanently or on a daily/weekly
basis, from rural communities to obtain employment and services, contributes to a qualitative decline
in the community and reduction of the socio-economic potential for the community to correct a
deteriorating condition. The dependency linkage between small urban and small rural communities
is not well understood for purposes of policy and program formulation. Many people, particularly
in the rural community, have strong urban ties that are necessary for socio-economic well-being, yet
a rural orientation by institutional programs and services exclusively through agricultural endeavors
may overlook the importance of that linkage.
The challenge to understand socio-cultural change as it extends beyond the agricultural production
dimension is before the research scientists and policy makers. Rural family, farm and business
managers work within dynamic systems which may or may not focus on the criteria and goals of
science-based programs. These systems are comprised of many components that are usually serviced
by disciplinary specialization. Seldom, however, is the focus inter-disciplinary, balanced and
integrated to service the whole. An orientation toward socio-economic interactions among the
components, entities and people that are represented in the system is either weak or non-existent.
Without this emphasis it is difficult to be mindful of the interactions that provide the dynamics for
the transitional community in North Florida.
Understanding this transitional dynamic will continue to be difficult for support institutions such
as a land-grant university that is bound by and motivated by large, highly discipline oriented and
administratively distinct units. To assess and respond to the present and potential needs of the client
community demands a targeted sense of mission and a specified plan with appropriate support
resources that focus upon a holistic set of issues. It seems that the university has become more
singular and specific as the community it serves has become more complex in a holistic context. Most
basic is the need to relearn at the institutional level how to deal with and identify a new and evolving
clientele within each unique community. But land-grant universities might achieve that task if they
are compelled to return to implementing the philosophy upon which they were established.
I. A BRIEF CHARACTERIZATION OF NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA
Boundaries and Demographics
The region referred to as North Central Florida in this paper is a triangular area including 14
counties. The northern most boundary is the state of Georgia and includes Jefferson, Madison,
Hamilton, Columbia and Baker Counties. On the eastern edge we have the counties of Baker,
Bradford and Alachua. The Gulf Coast area includes Levy, Dixie and Taylor Counties and those
counties not touching a boundary include Lafayette, Suwannee, Gilchrist and Union. The Suwannee
River extends through the region on a north-south orientation. Other small waterways and lakes
abound in the region. Counties of greatest emphasis in the IFAS-North Florida Small Farm Program
over the past few years have been those considered to be within the Suwannee Valley area including
Madison, Hamilton, Columbia, Suwannee and Lafayette.
The region is well served by transportation. Several major arteries pass through the region
including the Interstates 10 and 75 and the U.S. Highways 90, 41, 27 and 98. At this point rail
transportation is of minor importance. Air transportation services the three major corners of the
triangular region including Gainesville in the Southeast corner, Tallahassee which is outside the
defined region on the Northwest corner and Jacksonville also outside the defined region on the
Northeast corner. Access to a major port at Jacksonville is also available. Small facilities are located
along the Gulf area, particularly for fishing purposes. A new farmers' market has been established
near Lake City at the I-10/I-75 intersection. The region also embodies the Osceola National Forest
and many wildlife and recreational preserve areas small in nature but important to the overall natural
and recreational environment.
The population situation is relatively dynamic (Table I). In 1988 the 14 North Central Florida
counties represented 3.25% of the total Florida population. By 1998 it is expected that the North
Central Florida population will represent only 3.06% of a total estimated to be 15.4 million for the
state of Florida. As we look toward the future it is expected that the region will grow by 17%
between 1988 and 1998 while the state will grow by 23% over the same period. Projected growth rates
in the respective counties generally reflect expectations concerning economic activity and the past
desire of residents within these counties relative to in-migration.
Income and Emplovment
The labor force of the 14 counties in 1988 represented 3.2% of the overall state labor force. It
included 194,000 people of which 146,000 were in the non-agricultural labor force. Thus, 24.5% of
the labor force was involved in agricultural endeavors. The unemployment rate, at 4.1%, was below
the overall Florida rate at 5.1%.
The income situation for the 14 counties indicates that all counties were below the Florida average
per capital of $16,372 in 1988. The highest per capital personal income was displayed by Lafayette
County at $14,400 and the lowest income per capital was $8,700 in Dixie County. These figures,
however, can be misleading in many instances because of significant irregularities in income
distribution. Many of Florida's low income families live in these counties. The overall average per
capital income being about 25% under the state level further suggests the significance of the income
distribution problems within the region.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
The history of agriculture in North Florida is rich with many different crops and changes in
relative importance of those crops. Each has its problems, particularly due to market conditions but
also to the challenges of the Florida sub-tropical environment that permits many pest problems to
perpetuate. Poor market opportunities plague most commodities produced in North Central Florida.
With all of the commodities grown in the region, some of which are discussed below, it is difficult
to identify even a few that would be the mainstay for sustained agriculture. This complicates the
situation for support institutions and organizations serving the region.
At one time citrus was grown in the southern part of the North Central region. Other fruit crops
have entered and the newest of economic importance is blueberries. Vegetable crops have been
produced throughout the region but have received considerable competition from South Florida as
well as from imports. There are new crops in the vegetable area which are being tested in several
locations and emphasis is given particularly to new production methods for tomato within the area
influenced by the Live Oak Experiment Station program. A new state farmers' market facility has
recently become operational in anticipation of increased vegetable production.
Timber products have always been important to North Florida and various new ventures besides
pulp sales include ornamentals and Christmas trees. Experiments are underway with shiitake
mushrooms as a complement to forestry production.
Livestock remain important to North Florida but also new programs in fisheries including
aquaculture have production promise. Livestock operations that are small in nature but important to
the small farm operation, have included primarily feeder cattle. Currently it is expected that the
dairy industry will expand in North Central Florida because of changes brought about by ecological
stress on South Florida production due to water contamination problems by the large dairies.
For field crops, Florida is often a marginal producer and more subject to price stress than farms
in the midwest of the United States. Field crops have a history of importance and change on North
Central Florida. For example, as tobacco has become less important in the U.S. market, economic
stress has been placed on numerous North Florida farm operations. The number of farms producing
tobacco has declined by more than half in the past ten years and numerous attempts to enter other
production endeavors have been made by these farmers. Output by fewer farmers, however, has
increased to keep total production and the resulting employment from declining as much as might be
expected. A strong international market has been responsible, but its future is not assured.
Other field crops have often moved through a feast and famine income cycle. Corn has been a
staple crop for many farms but suffers as does soybean production and wheat with the changes in
price due to national and international market conditions. Peanuts, too, have been an important field
crop and remain so for some producers. With all of these commodities and many not mentioned, it
is difficult to identify one that would be the mainstay for agriculture in North Florida. Forage crops
remain important for the area and new introductions such as the perennial peanut show promise both
for forage purposes and to reduce commercial fertilizer requirements.
Farm numbers over the years have declined in North Florida for reasons common to many
agricultural states in the United States and because Florida has maintained a marginal position in
many commodity areas. In 1925 there were 23,000 farms in all of Northwest, North Central and
Northeast Florida compared to 61,000 for the entire state. This represented 38% of the farms in the
state. By 1982, the number of farms in North Florida had dropped to 11,600 or 31.9% of the 36,300
farms in the state of Florida. Thus, it would appear that North Florida has experienced a decline in
agricultural comparative advantage vis-a-vis the rest of the state. This situation, which is a result of
numerous factors, is more pervasive when one considers the extension of agriculture into rural part-
time farm operations where the family is often dependent upon off-farm employment in the rural
North Central Florida communities. A further indicator of the relative position of the North Florida
region is found in rent to land value ratios determined by IFAS Land Economists. Generally for the
United States in 1988 these ratios ranged from 6%-9% with 6% for Delta states and 3%-4% for South
Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. For Northwest Florida, 3% was the estimated ratio and 1.4%
prevailed for Northeast Florida (these regional designations include North Central Florida).
There could be several interpretations of these differences. They could mean that land values in
North Florida are relatively inflated or alternatively that farm land is abundant relative to other
resources. Both situations may exist depending upon location within the region.
In the future in North Florida, according to Tim Hewitt, an IFAS Economist, agriculture is going
to experience continued economic stress but include some successful agricultural endeavors. It is
expected that traditional row crops will be grown and livestock numbers will continue to vary only
slightly. To stabilize income, diversification will continue to be important and represent the typical
farming operation. Hewitt expects that part-time farming will continue to dominate and become
more widespread as profit margins narrow in the agricultural side of the rural income picture.
Alternative enterprises may be important to small groups where market niches can be identified but
will not necessarily represent a major income generating situation for the region at large. A great
amount of land which is well suited for timber production probably will move into timber products
and may become involved in woody ornamental or Christmas tree production. As in the past, it is
expected that North Florida agriculture will continue to change very rapidly and be dynamic relative
to use of natural resources and the enterprises involved in the diverse farming systems.
POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS OF NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA (14 counties)
Source: 1988 The Kiplinger Editors, Inc., 1989
TABLE 2: LABOR AND PER CAPITAL INCOME DATA FOR
NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA (14 counties)
Source: Florida Trend, Spring 1988
% of State
TABLE 3: NUMBER OF FARMS IN FLORIDA AND NORTH FLORIDA1
% of Florida
Source: Florida Statistical Abstract, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of
Florida and Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service.
INorth Florida is defined as those counties north and west of Alachua County.
III. CONCEPTUAL MODEL FOR STUDY OF RURAL SYSTEMS
Some Systems Thought
The society of North Central Florida consists of numerous systems designated by familiar
institutions including family, education, religion, government, law enforcement, financial, marketing,
service and others. Boulding helps us deal with this complexity as he considers the sociosphere within
which systems and institutions play out their roles (pp. 1-22). He indicates that every system consists
of its "state description" and its "dynamics". Possibly a well worn analogy would be the distinction
between a snapshot and a movie. Knowledge of a system is gained by the orderly selection and
rejection of information through description. The dynamics of information retrieval provides for a
succession of state descriptions through a time-space continuum with image formations of the future
formed from present and past behavior. An evolutionary process combines with the concept of
equilibrium in the state system to maintain a structure. This structure in the midst of a flow of
materials or other "role occupants" is termed an "open system". Just as biophysical systems build
defenses against external changes (warm-blooded animals against temperature, for example) so do
social organizations through various restraining mechanisms.
The social system or sociosphere, while the most complex of our systems, is reduced to
understandable components by various social science disciplines. Social and economic organizations
as in schools, churches, civic groups, companies, and firms are a basis for study along with their
internalized codes such as constitutions, charters, bylaws, and management plans. These organizations
are operationalized by a structure of roles and role occupants. Role-creating relationships, according
to Boulding, assume threat, exchange or integrative forms that guide behavior in an economic context.
From these distinctions that operationalize the concept of a sociosphere study units and variables are
identified through the process of identification, measurement and analysis in research.
North Central Florida's institutions as systems are composed of functional components that in
themselves represent subsystems. Each consists of a state description and dynamic situations
illustrated by the rapid transitions underway in the region. As an example, the educational system
can be described to include adult, secondary, elementary and pre-school forms and each must deal
with various administrative, management, fiscal and logistical functions. How these functions
interrelate determines how effective each system is in the dynamic process of problem solving and
goal achievement for people within the changing North Central Florida society. Role relationships
are formed within and among students, teachers, parents and administrators. Relationships between
school systems and other systems are determined by the way roles interconnect to form causal
responses within a super system or sociosphere. This concept, discussed by Robert Cummings Neville
(pp. 228-230), will be utilized within the following conceptual framework.
Institutional Source Models
Two approaches to viewing institutional access are illustrated by alternative models for
understanding the role and the behavior of organization and institution leaders. The two models
provide a contrasting perspective within which the analytical model for this research is postulated.
Stephen D. Biggs, University of East Anglia, provides the general concepts for these models in his
discussion of agricultural research and technology promotion (1989). He discusses a central source
model and a multiple source model.
The central source model often is dominant for agricultural research and extension. Even within
the multiple research and education centers' structure, as prevails in many U.S. states, the central
source concept is probably predominant over a multiple source model. Biggs indicates the following
key features of the central source model:
1. Roles of institutions and groups are specific and unambiguous. For example, farmers are
technology adopters, extension conveys information and research provides investigation.
2. Set stages occur in sequential patterns as a basis for mobilizing institutions.
3. A hierarchical structure prevails in the process of generating knowledge and technology or
4. Neutral networks emerge for the exchange of materials and information which can serve to
reinforce the hierarchical nature of the center oriented system.
5. The treatment of time is linear in this hierarchical structure with problem solving moving along
a diagnosis, development, testing and dissemination continuum.
6. Technology is perceived as something that can be developed at the center and transferred as a
package. Thus, innovations emanate from the center or top of the system down to a client.
7. No reference is made to political, economic and institutional factors in the process of developing
knowledge, technology and solutions.
The multiple source model assumes a holistic "chaotic" perspective to achieve institutional and
client interaction in a participatory setting. Biggs suggests the following:
1. General features include the political, economic and institutional context; with institutions
depicted as formal, informal, public and private; and a historical dimension to give basis to the
2. Specific features include use of practitioner and user innovations from research and innovative-
minded clients joined by research-minded administration practitioners.
3. A recognition that the system contains and is dependent upon multiple actors that extend beyond
single and separate institutions and single (simple) knowledge or technology based solutions.
The meta model developed in the present research attempts to bring the Biggs multiple source
model into use as an analytical model. It, however, must also incorporate the central source structure
for purposes of analysis because much of the existing system is dependent upon tightly defined
hierarchical structures. The contributions of the multiple source model, while complicating, provide
the basis for understanding the whole environment within which the rural society lives and operates.
Roles as causal activities within and among the systems we attempt to model provide a point for
observation in a research context. Neville gives credit to roles as actualizers of the interconnected
causalities in a system. He writes:
The interconnection between roles is such that (1) the playing of any role is sustained by the playing
of some others and in turn sustains some others, (2) the alteration of any role requires an alteration
in one or more other roles, (3) conditions 1 and 2 link individual roles in such a way that, either
directly or indirectly, all the roles in the system are linked to form a causal unit; that is, the
consequences of playing any role or altering any role are felt throughout all the roles.
Background conditions provide the basis of a system and condition the environment from past role
interactions. Thus, a historical role perspective is necessary for consideration of present role patterns
and implications for future actualities. The nature of the role interactions between systems according
to Neville can be overlapping, conjunctive or accidental. An overlapping interaction is where a role
in one system is also a role in another system. The conjunctive interaction is based on an essential
dependency between two systems such as performing labor in one system conjoins with food
consumption in another system to sustain the energy to work. And, an accidental interaction occurs
where changes in a role within one system influence a role in another system without assuming
responsibility within that system as in the case of "externalities" in a biophysical/socio-economic
In an analytical context, a merger of the Biggs and Neville contributions along with other liberties
added may take the form of an evaluation matrix as follows:
Role Causality Central Multinle
Overlapping x x
Conjunctive x x
Accidental x x
The model is applied by taking a situation or "role dynamic" within the context of an institutional
setting (an organization most likely) and determining the status of the situation as it relates to the
three role causalities and the two source orientations. The situation may be one of interaction
(management of research in a land grant university) or one of transition (responsiveness of land grant
research to an urbanizing society) both having different but related implications. A further
assessment of the dynamic nature of the situation would be to observe the interaction or the transition
based on how the institutional body responds to an orientation, then disorientation and finally
reorientation. Use of the model could be descriptive, diagnostic, predictive or prescriptive concerning
response to the situation. It could be applied at various levels within and among subsystems, systems
and the super system (sociosphere) of a study area. Change may suggest movement from one source
orientation to another; a mode for that change will lie in defining and redefining roles to adjust for
the expectations and desires of the emerging system.
Contributions of the role causality/source orientation evaluation matrix are now placed in the
context of the following analytical meta model. The analytical content of the matrix views role
changes from interactive and/or transitive perspectives relative to source orientation (central to
multiple) including orientation, disorientation and reorientation. We aspire to achieve an analytical
construct that is both manageable and sufficiently holistic to have meaning as a tool for institutional
analysis and policy consideration.
An Analytical Meta Model
The purpose of this effort is to provide a conceptual construct for analyzing institutional and
policy development as a base for understanding rural systems. It is termed an analytical meta model
because it attempts to include economic and social results (analysis) along with research and learning
(meta the transformation, transcending yet isomeric element of change). Experience and knowledge
applied to community analysis and development provide joint contributions to recommendations for
change and to establishment of learning environments for understanding new systems. An attempt
is made to elevate study of the cognitive aspect of individual behavior, which is of necessity holistic,
to the community level where we are confronted by a dynamic holistic system. The model assumes
that institutions and policies influence and are influenced by interactive and integrative behaviors of
a dynamic whole, sometimes in beneficial ways and others less so depending upon the perspective of
the beholder. These behaviors are rooted in historical, cultural and institutional systems that give
substance to the individual roles within the community or sociosphere. This analytical/meta approach
to formulation of a conceptual model then is concerned with understanding socio-economic change
of a community by giving focus to analytical factors that transcend the results of a transformation in
the transition community. Restated more pragmatically, can we develop a dynamic methodology and
theory formulation process to serve research by guiding the selection of data retrieval and analytical
methods toward investigating situations that are undergoing continuous change?
The model is depicted in Figures 3 and 4 and focuses on the central "eye" which is the point of
institution and Dolicv interaction or conversion. It can be separated into three components, two being
conditioners within the sociosphere and one providing evidence of their conditioning influence. They
are "action conditioners", "role conditioners" and "study units and variables".
SThe action/conditioners are those embodied in Deole. organizations and processes. Interaction
of these conditioners creates change. Separately they have no power. The people orientation
is mobilized by mutually dependent roles through client and human resource relationships; the
organizational orientation through the mutual dependency structure of form and function; and
the process orientation through interdependent technological innovation processes and policy
SThe ven diagram illustrates an interaction overlap or domain of role/conditioners termed
individual creativity, arouo socialization and program dynamics.
SStudy units and variables correspond with the action and role conditioners and provide the
interactive intent of the model. These study units and variables, while briefly discussed in the
conceptual model, extend into the research process and the proposal for study that follow in
sections IV and VI. They yield the information for identifying the causality roles that-provide
the basis for relationships among component systems where people, organizations and processes
interact. Study units and variables further assist in determining if the interconnection is
overlapping or conjunctive based on the Neville distinction.
Figure- 3: -AnalyHeal Model for Institutional and Policy intereotien*
Figure 4: Interaction Matrix for Institutional
and Policy Research
a. .- - -
The strength of the analytical meta model lies most specifically in the interaction domains (role
SIndividual creativity, representing the overlap between people and processes, embodies what
has been termed "the knowledge worker". Individual creativity is conditioned by the role
position assumed individually and collectively within role situations of systems and the
resulting organizations and institutions.
SGroup socialization, including the interactive overlap between organizations and people,
represents various systems such as communication networks, a community culture and the
group processes resulting from the organization of people into interest and interactive working
bodies. Group socialization is a process drawing from and contributing to role designations and
SProgram dynamics, resulting from the interaction between processes and organizations, can
involve various concepts such as learning environment, the transition community, the dynamic
culture, transitional network and action planning. Program dynamics is concerned with role
change, transition, redefinition, linkage, prioritization and management.
Ultimately these interaction domains are the focal point for analysis and change (the basis of the
analytical meta model). Action conditioners and study units and variables contribute to understanding
the interaction domains. Contrary, however, to much of our observation, it is the interaction that is
the focus of study and not simply the entity, person or practice. The study of "things" or in
Boulding's terms state descriptors while a pleasant enough task, says little about where they have been
and where they are going. Thus, we desire to focus on this domain of interaction as the dynamic
feature of the community and social system. We give attention to the continuum of role causalities
from overlapping interactions to conjunctive dependencies and finally to those accidental or
serendipitous interactions that appear to be so common. Of course some definition of entities, people
and practices is necessary as a basis for the study of interactions as study units and variables.
People as Action Conditioners
Institutions are founded by and for people through historical relationships prescribed by role
linkages that give direction to processes and organizations. People provide the basis for both the
personal orientation and social value orientation that influences a way of life in its fullest individual
and social context. Specifically, the personal orientation brings cognitive behavior to various learning
styles, decision modes and individual management skills. Ethical considerations, value to goal
frameworks and belief structures are included in the value orientations that shape behavior roles both
individually and within groups.
The social value and personal orientations, for example, give strength to individual role causalities
as a basis for interacting with natural resource use decisions. The natural resource orientation must
deal with current needs and a need to sustain existence which may or may not penetrate individual
behavior beyond the immediate term. Intergenerational concerns imposed upon resource use are
influenced by relationships commonly depicted by measures of productivity, stability, sustainability,
equitability and integrity. Impact is felt by the degree to which ecological degradation prevails, social
dislocation occurs, rising energy needs exceed long-term potentials, economic inequality prohibits
egalitarian goals and the territorial imperative of individuals is violated. But finally people in the
highest order of philosophical orientation must judge whether nature is served for the benefit of
Thus, the concept of people embodies that of the human resource and the client orientation where
human action is gauged to assist other humans to live within natural limitations. Other interactive
constructs for analysis, similar to the one for natural resources, tho not so compelling, can be posited
where the social value orientation acts to condition institutions and policy.
Organizations as Action Conditioners
The study of organizations often focuses on the structure and form of entities established to
perform certain functions and services through a wide array of facilities. However, ingredients of
a successful organization relative to a socio-economic system usually include linkages, networks,
collaborative agreements and various community outreach systems to bring people into a productive
mode. Thus, in the study of organizations we become interested in various community profiles that
will indicate who serves what interest and whose needs. Impact evaluation, either by the markets
"invisible hand" or by socially designed criteria, rests on the extent of an organization's success in
service and its ability to adjust to the dynamics of a changing socio-economic environment.
Organizational analysis begins and ends with people. It includes understanding the induction
process for people to given roles within the organization, its goals as well as role and goal interactions
with systems that nurture other organizations. Interaction within, through and among organizations
is necessary relative to satisfaction of individual participant needs and organizational effectiveness.
The organization aspires to achieve a "potential" relative to networks, needs and interactions called
for by people. It may not be an understanding of forces or possessing those forces that is so important
as knowing how to use the resulting role networks to facilitate worthwhile human interactions that
will service needs. Hence, the study of the organization follows culture and convention/tradition as
a means for charting a pathway from past experience to current reality and future potential.
Organizations sanctioned by institutions, or becoming institutions themselves, are not studied
entirely for their productivity, their efficiency, their output, their profit, their service and their
rewards, but also for the human behavior they embody as depicted in the aims in life of participants.
Collectively these aims are expressed in goal and mission statements of organizations. Herein may
explain why organizations manifest the desire to be self-perpetuating and, in fact, may do so at the
expense of productivity, output, service and profit. Role based contributions by individuals are
expressions of commitment and willingness to give of self for the good of the organization and the
institution because they value what the institution stands to do for them. Allegiance to the land-grant
system of institutions in the U.S., for example, runs deep for many people but possibly over extends
current ability to respond to society's needs as effectively as the system has in the past. This may be
true because the needs are not well enunciated and understood due to a break down in the foci for
analysis and learning. Thus, role disorientation among public institutions, based upon poorly
understood role positions extending from individuals through various life and organizational systems,
may prevail. Institutional access for change may be influenced by the dual modalities of centrally
focused behavior in opposition to openly diversified behavior.
Process as an Action Conditioner
For purposes of the meta model, specifically oriented to rural and urban revitalization, we think
of two contributing processes or role causalities of interest to institutions that support development.
The process of technology innovation and the process of policy formulation each provide a basis for
influencing change. Each depends on the effectiveness of the other. They have become popular as
activities in themselves because of the ascendance of methodological power that ordains individuals
to manipulate the study of people and nature through the management of science. Thus, these
processes are influenced by the degree to which study disciplines emerge with specializations to
address technology needs and policy needs. Resulting paradigms for research, education and
implementation vary significantly and influence these processes as they emerge in a given setting.
Overall, the processes can be well formulated and serve the real world or, to the concern of the more
pragmatic, can lack the ability for integration into systematic result and client targeted analysis. If
the processes only serve to entertain scientists then the problem solving activators in the model
(individual creativity and program dynamics) are thwarted.
The implementor of process is the individual working through an organization. Peter Drucker calls
this individual the "knowledge worker". In education, the "knowledge worker" role is one of a market
manager of information. Management contributes to a learning environment consisting of
transformational and transcendental situations (the "meta") that stimulate the educational quest.
Primary functions of "process" application by people include diagnosis, innovation, marketing and
Diagnosis provides the basis for understanding educational needs of the client oriented system
or, in fact, the process of creating the client. For example, the client may be a specific class
of farm managers.
Innovation provides the ability to assemble new experientially based learning packages.
Innovation finds new uses for old knowledge and creates new knowledge from the world stock
of knowledge. It is not an inventive process but one of endowing human resources with a
greater learning capacity and opportunity so that they can become problem-solvers both
individually and through their social organizations. If the client is the farm manager then the
research process of innovation requires learning about how the mental process of the manager
evolves in observing and conceiving ideas, in analyzing and making further observations, in
making decisions on the basis of analysis, in taking action and in accepting responsibility (See
Bradford and Johnson, p3.).
SMarketing represents an ability to sell the learning techniques, methodology and pedagogy.
Marketing does not refer exclusively to selling knowledge but to selling the process for gaining
knowledge in a way that will lead to successful technology innovation and policy formulation
for a specific end. Thus, it is not simply the product of farm management analysis but the
process of farm management analysis that is essential to a viable institution and client
SThe management function, as an overriding responsibility for the "knowledge worker", unites
marketing and diagnosis with innovation in a way that provides a process for completion of a
task. Drucker indicates that management is the tool of modern society and "makes modern
organization perform" (p. xi). The institution and management are interdependent; one cannot
perform successfully without the other. In our farm manager example we are concerned with
managing the learning environment as the essential basis for assisting the farm manager.
People and the Institution
The analytical meta model for institutional and policy study focuses on the potential for effective
program development. Role interaction provides the ingredients for individual creativity, group
socialization and program dynamics, termed "interaction domains". The overriding purpose of the
institution is to create a client and to well serve that client from this interaction context. Some might
question the notion of creating a client. People are clients for different purposes and needs. They
assume different roles, responsibilities and systemic configurations within which they interact.
Usually one institution cannot be all things for all people; it cannot serve all needs nor embody all
roles. Ideally, we study people as they exist and determine what part of their desires, interests and
makeup are embodied in a specific serviceable need to which organizations, processes and individual
actions emerge as a support service within an institutional context. We can gain more in the service
responsibility by creating that part of the interactive client we expect to serve than by simply
identifying, without role discrimination, a client.
The interactive nature of the institution and client relationship suggests a dependency pattern.
As the client determines the institution, so does the institution determine its client with various
institutions able to interact around and through clients as human resources. Institutions then assume
role causalities that may be characterized in the Neville structure as overlapping, conjunctive or
accidental. The driving force of the institution becomes evident in its organizations and processes as
either successful or unsuccessful ventures in producing dynamic programs to serve a designated inter-
dependent client orientation. Any action that tends to stifle individual creativity or group
socialization, whether it be behavioral, individual neuroses or governmental bureaucracy and political
constraint, will reduce the ability of organizations and individuals to generate programs that can deal
with trans-institutional analysis of networks and needs. Inter-institutional (and inter-organizational)
collaboration through mutual understanding of the needs of a whole client (the community system,
sociosphere or super system) has the potential for complementarity and collective social service that
in total will exceed single institution (organization) action.
The transition community and dynamic culture of North Florida is complex. It is certainly more
complex than this model. Without full elaboration of the model, we now turn to implementation
through client oriented participatory research as a means of both looking at regional development in
North Central Florida and verifying or amplifying the model. The proposal and the research process
will not do justice to the potential of a complete analytical meta model nor will the model do justice
to the situation in North Central Florida. A hope is that reality will be more closely approximated
by taking a non-linear, laterally determined and possibly chaotic view of the problem at hand. By
doing so we will focus on policy and institutional interactions within the rural/urban environment of
North Florida as opposed to detailed study of the separate components. The emphasis, once again,
is on interactions within the rural/urban environment that provide for the dynamics of evolutionary
change in a holistic setting i.e. the real world.
As a review of the approach taken thus far and as a glimpse of what is to come, figures 5 and 6
provide flow diagrams of the theoretical framework and research framework suggested for this
Figure 5: Theoretical Framework
Structure Organizations --Relationships
Study Units Variables
Figure 6: Research Framework
Institution & Policy
Units and Variables
Inquiry Observation & Analysis
IV. A MODEST RESEARCH PROPOSAL
Evolving from the characterization of the North Central Florida region and the conceptual
framework presented in the analytical meta model, the following questions establish a problem basis
linking to hypotheses for the research. The questions consider the decline in regional and community
well-being resulting from socio-economic conditions. Causality situations result from inter-
relationships between characteristics such as low income, reduced economic opportunity, community
disorientation, in and out-migration, natural resource stress, loss of socio-economic base, a struggling
and sporadic policy and institutional support base, reduced economic opportunity and, once again,
low income. Fundamental issues to be addressed through the problem statement are structured as
1. If they are necessary, what roles should rural-urban support institutions assume within the
entire system to make successful technological and policy recommendations that will serve
family, firm, community and regional systems? (HI, 01, H2, 02, H3, 03)
2. Will the resource base sustain projected changes through the urban-rural transition including
new industry, expanded business opportunities and new agricultural endeavors such as growth
of the dairy industry within the region? (H4, 04, 05)
3. Will these systems demand tailored policies and technologies or will scale neutrality as well as
program and policy neutrality be appropriate and sufficient for the future? (H3, 06, 07)
4. Is the overall institutional and policy situation at the local, regional, state and national levels
2Notation in parentheses following questions in the problem statement, the research hypotheses
and the objectives refer to subsequent corresponding (P) problems, (H) hypotheses and, (0)
objectives. Together they attempt to provide the methodology necessary for this research .
Procedures then provide the specific guidelines for developing the information base necessary to
fulfill the objectives, conceptually test the hypotheses and ultimately further explain the problem.
The hypotheses, objectives and procedures are an inter-related set so only primary linkages are
designated by the notation in parentheses.
adequate to provide for sustained economic activity in North Central Florida? (H5, 03, H6,
5. Can disjoint organizations and institutions effectively and efficiently service the needs of the
region or will it become necessary for institutional integration along different geographic,
political, social and economic lines? (HS, 03, H3)
1. Because a typology is lacking for understanding and managing the institutional linkage to
clients and the inter-institutional linkages within the region as a basis for program
development, overall and collective institutional service is constrained. (P1, 01)
2. A model can be developed to guide successful analysis of institutional impact and service
within the rural/urban household system of the community and region from which
recommendations for improved policies and programs will emerge. (P1, 02)
3. Research and extension institutions are stressed because of a lack of experience, mandate (role
definition) and willingness to manage a multi- and interdisciplinary situation. The profession/
disciplinary process limits flexibility and re-actability for these structures, thereby alienating
the client from an institutional potential. (P1, P3, P5, 03, 06, 07)
4. In North Central Florida discontinuities (role clarification, consistency and continuity) prevail
between individual creativity, group socialization and program dynamics (the three domains
or role conditioners of the conceptual model) that keep the region from orderly development
and transition. That is, for example, if individual creativity is stifled due to fractured
community ties and uncertain role causality linkages then weak programs to support group and
individual action will result. (P2, 04, 05)
5. The institutional and policy interaction (or lack thereof) evolving with the individual, group
and program discontinuities contributes to economic and/or political weakness which thereby
limits the capability of the region to sustain socio-economic development. (P4, PS, 03)
6. Scientists, researchers and their managers have failed to relate their perceived or delegated
roles to individual creativity, group socialization and program dynamics (domains one, two and
three of the model); and to see the expanding role potentials for their contributions that could
result from better understanding the interactions delineated in these domains. Where a
knowledge and understanding of the domains prevail, policy makers, administrators and
managers, not knowing how to effectively utilize the information, resort to micro management
of components in an attempt to "do something". (P4, 07, 03)
The general objectives of the research intend to provide information and analysis to local, state
and federal policy makers as well as to the institutions and organizations that serve the North Central
Florida region, with the purpose of sustained socio-economic well-being and regional stability. The
specific objectives are to:
1. Understand the potential through institutional change and policy development for urban/rural
revitalization in the North Central region of Florida by delineating potentials within the
framework of individual creativity, group socialization and program dynamics. Concern is for
specific activities and institutional involvements such as that of land-grant institutional efforts.
2. Perform community socio-economic analysis and test the approach as a participatory process.
3. Assess interactions within the urban/rural linkage and identify opportunities for strengthening
that linkage in a socio-economically rewarding manner. (PI, P4, P5, H3, H5, H6)
4. Describe the human resource base including needs and quality of life expectations of residents
in the North Central region from a broad set of perspectives based on participation in the
urban and rural setting. (P2, H4)
5. Inventory the natural resource base including flow/time components relative to sustainable
capacity. (P2, H4)
6. Review the overall entrepreneurial climate within which socio-economic change and needs are
evolving to determine unique support service requirements. Go beyond conventional issues of
taxation, wages and regulation. (P3, H3)
7. Study how individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, sub systems, systems and
communities perform and behave in their roles and how their roles interact. (P3, H3, H6)
1. Interpretation, as a sustaining process, includes the matter to be interpreted; interpreters who
perform researching, teaching, managing, writing and other functions; and people or "clients"
whose behaviors serve as both evidence and purpose.
2. Procedures and results of reflection and analysis are affected by the convictions of the scholars
and are often represented by polarized classifications of lesser importance to clients.
3. All of us have an obligation to keep active a concern for human values in the culture as a whole.
4. All of us are obligated to maintain pluralism in and through our methodological approaches to
investigation of human values and behaviors in the culture as a whole.
5. No one group, in itself, is sufficient to provide "answers" to existing and potential questions.
The general process of this research will:
1. Refine the conceptual model for purposes of analyzing the role and importance of interactions
between people, organizations and processes expressed as individual creativity, group socialization
and program dynamics.
2. Probe through various procedures (cooperative inquiry, personal interviews, review of documents
and unpublished information sources, focus groups, field observation) the needs and opportunities
for exploiting individual contributions to the system as a means for learning about new ways to
extend experience from the micro and discipline specific set to a holistic policy and institutional
3. Involve actors in the region with the analysis through focus groups and consensus processes to
reach unique alternatives and recommendations. Both contemporary human experience and
analysis of past experience serve as a basis for problem oriented knowledge.
4. Incorporate the numerous current findings of disperse and on-going research activities in the
region. An inventory will be prepared initially as a service to this effort and to those working to
better provide service to the region.
5. Implement the research objectives through collection and analysis of information, particularly
pertaining to the study units and variables, by specifying the client, people, human resource
situation; the transitional community profile; the transitional networks in progress; and the present
and desired institutional support system.
Several approaches to gaining knowledge through historical perspective, individual and
institutional experience, and varied forms of data and information gathering efforts will be necessary.
Briefly these are presented below. Greater detail will evolve from early encounters in the research
Cooperative inquiry will be employed as an overall conceptual, synthesis and analysis tool by
identifying a relatively heterogenous research team for periodic and intense collaborative interaction
over an extended period of time (possibly biweekly meetings for one year or more). The group will
consist of North Central Floridians (rural and urban) such as policy makers, firm level decision
makers, research and extension people, representatives from support institutions and community
organizations, and others able to give time and experience to the team. The group might consist of
15 to 20 people. To the extent possible, given limited research resources, and to the extent
appropriate, given the nature of the redefined rural development dilemma, multimethod research will
be imposed as a basis for exploring a broad range of problem specifications, possible opportunities
and causal explanations (Brewer and Hunter).
As discussed by Peter Reason, the cooperative inquiry team will cycle information and experience
through "what, how, act, engage and reflect" stages and then recycle as new information and concepts
emerge. Validation procedures to be imposed by the group will include research cycling, balanced
divergent and convergent analyses, balanced reflection and experience, falsification where necessary,
chaos to order interaction, management of "unaware" projections emerging from team interaction,
balanced open and closed boundary processes for admittance of new information/experience to the
group, coherence in viewpoints toward action, and replication potentials. Thus the research and
experience of team participants will serve as the basis for the cooperative inquiry technique by
including knowledge from direct experience, survey results, focus groups, case studies,
multidisciplinary team studies, experimental results, field research and the creative results of the team
Direct experience will enter the cooperative inquiry process by making representatives of North
Florida's citizenry co-equals on the team. They will not to be viewed as study variables, clients or
sources anymore than will other team members. All will bring varied types of knowledge to the
research interaction which can be viewed in an open/lateral way as opposed to a more restrictive
vertical and hierarchical format.
Survey results may be drawn from past work or initiated by the group through one of the
participants as a complement to the information gathering process. The product will have no ultimate
value except as input to the total effort. Survey work will not be a major activity of the group per
Se. The creative conceptual work of the total group is expected to yield results that could suggest how
targeted use of field survey, experimental and other techniques might be most useful for longer term
institutional analysis and action.
Focus arouos may be implemented by members of the cooperative inquiry team as a means of
bringing in new insights. The progressively emergent synthesis work of these homogenous groups (6-
10 people) focusing on an issue will provide one basis for tracking the conceptual work of the
cooperative inquiry team. Focus groups could be held with farmers, county leaders, school teachers
Case studies will suggest how a given body (county, community, firm, organization) has dealt with
problems or opportunities. Elaboration and verification of cases where possible will provide
information, experiential exposure and analytical opportunity for the cooperative inquiry team.
Multidisciolinarv team procedures will be instigated by the inquiry team through selected members
as a source for full (holistic and broad) knowledge creation. The heterogenous multidisciplinary team
will target a relatively homogenous client group with constraint identification and analysis. This will
lead to problem resolution alternatives through targeted and participatory technology development
and testing as in farming systems research and extension. Some of this work is currently underway
and past experience can be drawn upon.
Experimental work is underway in the region rooted in a history of agricultural experimentation.
Now it primarily includes agronomic, horticultural and livestock experimental trials at the Live Oak
station but also includes some on-farm trials. Probably no new initiative will support the present
research but results of the multimethod research may suggest opportunities for experimental research.
Field research as in extended observation of a study unit on a continuous participatory and
interactive basis will not be possible except through ongoing or past interventions. Team members
of the cooperative inquiry group will be asked to provide the intense observations of a field research
exercise where possible and appropriate. The needs of a comprehensive multimethod problem solving
approach may dictate such study as part of future and on-going efforts to better understand
transitions in North Florida.
Various recent research efforts employing the above techniques are sources for the cooperative
inquiry team including, for example, the rural non-farm entrepreneurial research; women in
agriculture studies; farming systems research and extension; fundamental production, marketing and
management research; low-input sustainable agriculture research and others.
Study Units and Variable SDecification
Study units and variables must be specified and agreed upon within the early process of the
research itself. An initial task of the research will be to structure the "variables" suggested below into
units for purposes of general information retrieval, data collection and analysis. This process of
identification and specification will proivde the basis also for selecting data collection techniques and
methods of analysis. Also at this time the problem statement, hypotheses and research objectives will
be revisited and respecified as necessary.
A distinction between units and variables is made as follows. The unit of study may be
individuals, groups, organization and similar social entities or it may be an action or behavioral
situation. Variables then are characteristics that identify, define and distinguish a unit of study.
These characteristics as variables often vary from unit to unit. In some instances a situation, a
causality and condition may be a variable and the unit of study may be the individual or organization.
In others the opposite could be true. To achieve a complete analysis the research methodology may
call for studying the individual, for example. First as the unit of study and later as a variable. Each
will require different data, and possibly different data collection methods and analyses.
The long list of potential variables given below is only raw conjecture, a shopping list of
ingredients for rearchable hypotheses. Those "variables" may be units of study and/or variables for
this research. Others will emerge during the research. The research process suggested herein demands
that these "variables", and the methods for identification and measurement of variables and study
units for analysis, be respecified as a part of the research. To do otherwise would relegate the product
to conventional paths of the past and most likely fail to address real problems and opportunities, for
the present and the future.
A conceptual model (Figure 3) is offered as a basis for this work. Study units and variables
interact to finally represent the institutional/policy situation given in the ven diagram as the
interactive overlap between individual creativity, social organization and program dynamics
(interaction domains). The interactions may be viewed as a cube with analytical planes (interaction
domains) as in Figure 4. The model is applied as a guide to meeting the proposed research objectives.
Implementation of the research objectives will be through collection and analysis of information,
particularly pertaining to the study units and variables, by specifying the client, people, human
resource situation; the transitional community profile; the transitional networks in progress; and the
present and desired institutional support system.
Assessment of the study units and variables with participants in the research will primarily follow
three measures: cognition, affect and evaluation.
1. Study units and/or variables (directed to objective three and assessing interactions of rural and
urban people) to be considered within the people orientation of the model must help relate
people to the world in which they live. People deal with nature, history, culture, society and
self. Some examples of possible study units and/or variables include:
a. Career changes past, in-process and anticipated of individuals including motivating factors.
b. Off-farm experience of farm families and the out of urban experience of non-farm
c. Employers' understanding of rural and farm related skills in an urban setting and vice versa.
d. Considerations and desires of people within the region related to inter-generational equity
and inter-generational concerns for resource use.
e. Understanding of the ethical desirability and technological potential of major scientific
endeavors on the horizon.
f. Cultural heritage of the diverse sets of residents (rural and urban) with reference to present
and future orientation to sustainable family, sustainable community and sustainable regional
g. State of the transition culture and what is emerging as a pluralistic culture.
h. Sense of community and neighborhood within the small group setting of the region and
among regional entities inclusive of various socio-political and geographic demarcations
such as county.
i. Degree of program (educational, social, action, etc.) participation and knowledge by eligible
participants including reasons for participating or not participating.
j. Willingness and ability to contribute to solutions of community and regional problems
individually and collectively.
2. Study units and/or variables related to organizations are directed toward community
assessment. A community profile (an approach used by Whiteborn in Texas) will address the
question of adequacy relative to facilities, services and functions along a scale that looks to the
future. The scale will include an ability to advance, an ability to subsist and maintain at the
current status or an inability to advance and in fact to decline. Organizational behavior in a
collective context will be assessed from a pluralistic culture perspective by considering
interactive variables such as diversity, communication, persuasion, consensus and cooperation.
These are then channeled to characterization of the role linkages (overlapping, conjunctive,
accidental). The source for information will result from the community profile. Study units
and/or variables focused on the organizational goal/mission orientation will be identified to
serve the analysis of interaction domains specified in the model. The units and/or variables
(applied primarily to objectives four and five human and natural resources) include:
a. Family services
b. Youth programs
c. Market services
d. Financial services
e. Information sources
f. Industrial development
g. Municipal administration and planning
h. Parks and recreation
i. Police protection
1. Religious organizations
m. Arts and cultural enrichment bodies
n. Communication systems
o. Community appearance
p. Fire protection
q. Fuels, power and energy
r. Health and sanitation
s. Retail business management
t. City codes and/or ordinances
v. Water and waste management
w. Soil and water resources
y. Technical assistance organizations
z. National social welfare programs
aa. Public and private retirement programs
3. Study units and/or variables directed to process concerns need further thought. However, in
studying transition networks the focus is toward participation and mutual collaboration in
evaluating the status and impact of the various processes used to influence technological
change, institutional change and policy formulation. Several questions might be asked about
the environment in which transition is occurring as a means to assessing the effectiveness of
these processes. Some questions follow (particularly oriented to objectives two and six and
participatory socio-economic analysis):
a. How do organizations and people interact with some process concerns such as: procedures
and programs for educational/socialization; regulations concerning choice of the
individual, group and community levels; social and legal controls of behavior; and role
differentation and assignment.
b. What observable patterns are available to assess sustainability and/or persistence in a
c. Are there new paradigms, disciplines, organizations evolving to assist from within or from
outside the region in terms of meeting territorial needs?
d. Are institutions showing an ability to co-evolve with environments and foster rural and
urban revitalization through an ability to adapt to unique needs of the region?
e. Are paradigms emerging for pedagogy, research and extension that will provide an action
oriented learning environment which produces not only an educated public but an end
product in the process?
4. Finally general and holistic institutional analysis will be applied and adapted to various
institutions and the organizations embodied within, including agricultural research and
extension, finance and banking, education, social services, etc. This analysis, of course, is an
overlay of the study of people, organization and process variables. Each point for study is
challenged by the interaction domains of individual creativity, social organization and program
dynamics. Criteria for that evaluation will be developed as a part of the research. In one case
(directed to objectives are seven and eight institutional change and policy development for
urban/rural revitalization) the following points are made relative to the study of agricultural
research, education and extension:
a. Mission of the institution, organization goals, employee responsibility (the binding force).
b. Process for articulating the binding force.
c. Role in local, state and national development programs.
d. Leadership capability and potential both from the aggregate perspective and that of
e. Process for perpetuating shared cognitive orientations in leadership, investigation and
f. Management orientation and flexibility as organized and as managed.
g. Concerns for moral and ethical questions resulting from the organization.
h. Environmental/ecological/resource use orientation and relationship to scientific endeavors
on the "cutting edge".
i. Employment success and orientation of graduates.
j. Access to short-course programs and other information efforts to provide results to people
within the region.
k. Breadth of perspective such that institutional integration and study to keep pace with a
dynamic transitional society.
1. Consideration of contrasting organizational forms and testing of the most appropriate
alternatives. Organizational linkages and institutional inter-relationships.
m. Concern for organizational preservation and integrity. Recognized programs for success
over varied time frames.
n. Extent of public support manifested in financial support, use of principle products,
V. RESEARCH RESOURCES
This research is by nature very encompassing. It could never terminate a researcher's dream.
Yet funding for such work is unlikely if past investments are any indicator of future potential. The
need, however, is worthy of considerable support. Nevertheless the time and resource commitment
to the project is expected to be limited but the potential for productive work beyond the following
specification is excellent. The study will be paired down to meet available resources and interest but
hopefully open the door for more complete analysis by specifying a participative learning
Grant funding will be sought for this research effort. Given the important place of cooperative
inquiry in the research, the initial grant proposal development process will begin at the county level.
A representative from the county commission and the county extension director from each of the
fourteen counties will be contacted for involvement in developing the grant proposal. The principal
investigators) would meet with each county group separately and the entire group jointly to develop
the main components of the proposal. To this end and into the project itself, county participation will
be an important resource for information, research planning, and creative specification of ways to
view the institutional and policy concerns of North Central Florida. This process could be one that
becomes long term in nature with research, extension and action blended such that the research
process becomes an on-going part of county and regional programs. Thus, even for short-term
specification of research resource needs and capabilities the picture is uncertain. This, however, may
be the proposals strongest and most dynamic attribute.
The principle investigator will devote 0.8 FTE per year to the project over a two year period.
Collaboration and/or co-principle investigators will be encouraged from university research and
extension faculty and other North Florida citizen-participants. Every attempt will be made to fully
utilize component contributions to the analysis. To that end other research and development activities
focused in North Central Florida, of both current and historical origin, will be tapped.
Travel (national) four trips 4,000
Travel (in region) 30,000 miles at $0.22/mile 7,600
and per diem
Graduate student stipend 24,000
Data purchases, entry and management 4000
Biggs, Stephen D. "A Multiple Source of Innovation Model of Agricultural Research and Technology
Promotion", Agricultural Administration (Research and Extension) Network, ODI, Network Paper 6,
ISSN 0951-1873, June 1989.
Boulding, Kenneth E. Economics as a Science. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1970.
Bradford, Lawrence and Glen Johnson. Farm Management Analysis. New York, John Wiley and
Brewer, John and Albert Hunter. Multimethod Research-A Synthesis of Styles. Sage Publications,
Drucker, Peter F. Management Tasks. Responsibilities. Practices, Harper and Row, New York 1983.
Hildebrand, P.E. "Motivating Small Farmers, Scientists and Technicians to Accept Change".
Agricultural Administration, 1980-81, pp. 375-383. (Provides the methodological description of
multidisciplinary team research.)
Krueger, Richard A. Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Aoplied Research. Sage Publications,
Neville, Robert Cummings. Recovery of the Measure. Interpretation and Nature, State University
of New York Press, 1989.
Reason, Peter. Human Inquiry in Action Developments in New Paradigm Research, Sage
Samerson, Ayse C. "Wisconsin: Where Rural and Urban Revitalization Meet", Extension Review,
USDA, Vol. 59, No. 1, Winter 1988, pp. 6 & 7.
Whiteborn, Norman C. "TCAP Successful Texas Tool", Extension Review. USDA, Vol. 59, No. 1,
Winter 1988, p.29.