Sensemaking and financial management in the decision-making process of farmers

Michael Hayden, Ruth Mattimoe, Lisa Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose - The aim of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of the financial decision-making process of farmers and to highlight the potential role that improved farm financial management (FFM) could play in developing sustainable farm enterprises.

Design/methodology/approach - This paper adopts a qualitative approach with 27 semi-structured interviews exploring farmers’ financial decision-making processes. Subsequently, the interview findings were presented to a focus group. Sensemaking theory is adopted as a theoretical lens to develop the empirical findings.

Findings - The evidence highlights that FFM has a dual role to play in farmer decision-making. Some FFM activities may act as a cue which trigger a sensebreaking activity, causing the farmer to enter a process of sensemaking while some/other FFM activities are drawn upon to provide a sensegiving role in the sensemaking process. The role of FFM in farmer decision-making is strongly influenced by the decision type (strategic or operational) being undertaken and the farm type (dairy, tillage or beef) in operation.

Originality - The literature suggests that the majority of farmers spend little time on financial management. However, there are farmers who have quite a high level of engagement in FFM activities, when undertaking strategic farm expansion decisions. Those FFM activities help them to navigate through operational decision-making and to make sense of their strategic decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-552
JournalJournal of Accounting & Organizational Change
Issue number4
Early online date11 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2022


  • Sensemaking
  • Agriculture
  • Farm Financial Management
  • Farmer Decision-making
  • Strategic Decision-making
  • Operational Decision-making


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