Biotechnology: Nebel and Wright (1981, 6th ed. p. 252) define biotechnology as “genetic engineering, the transferring of genes from one species to another”.
Sustainable development: Nebel, Wright (1981, 6th ed. p. 16) stated “the World Commission on Environment and Development defined the term as a form of development or progress that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs””.
E-business and information technology: Daft (2003, p. 748) explains E-business, or e-commerce, “as business exchanges or transactions that occur electronically”.
Entrepreneurship: Daft (2003, p. 170) stated entrepreneurship “is the process of initiating a business venture, organizing the necessary resources, and assuming the associated risks and rewards”.
Human resources: Fossum (2006, p. 525) explains Human resource managers as “a person responsible for developing and implementing employment policies and practices and advising line managers on employment issues”.
International business: Daft (2003, p. 109) explains international business involves “business operations conducted in more than one country”.
Leadership: Daft (2003, p. 751) defines “leadership as the ability to influence people toward the attainment of organizational goals”.
Supply-chain management: Defined by Daft (2003, p. 715) as “meaning the sequence of suppliers and purchasers covering all stages of processing from obtaining raw materials to distributing finished good to final customers”.
The Benefits of Agricultural Education in Liberal Arts Colleges
Many colleges have chosen to expand their Master of Business Administration programs by offering specialized MBAs. The colleges are offering these specialty or “niche MBAs” (Holloway et al., 2003, p. 1) in hopes of persuading potential students to attend their college. The colleges offer the typical MBA, which allows the students to acquire their business degree, and finish it with a specialization, such as agriculture business. The colleges offering the specialty agriculture-MBA are hoping to provide the students with a distinct advantage of possessing an MBA with an additional education in a specialized area. This specialty MBA will hopefully provide the students with an advantage over students with a typical MBA when they finally do enter the job market.
The field of study will focus on the benefits that students derive from obtaining an MBA degree with an agriculture-related specialty. To obtain the colleges for this study, I sampled the field by performing internet searches in various websites using key word and subject searches. I did not notice any specific benefit from one search phrase or the other. I searched each college I chose with both search phrases to be sure to obtain equal results each time.
This study will utilize the analytical-descriptive type of methodology as explained by Creswell (2009, p. 152). This method involves analyzing the dependent and independent variables in the study. The dependent variable will consist of the niche MBA, and the independent variables will be the various specialty divisions one might obtain the specialty in, and the benefits reaped from obtaining this degree. I noted the colleges that offered an MBA along with agriculture-related specialization, and searched further into specifics such as:
The focus of the agriculture specialty degree
Relevancy of the agriculture degree in relation to the present daily issues.
The benefits will be discussed and their relevancy to daily life issues will be evaluated.
Numerous Colleges offer Agriculture-related Specialty MBAs.
Many colleges offer agriculture degrees, but now some colleges are offering their MBA degree with an agriculture-related specialty degree. Every category listed below is extremely important to agricultural and ecological issues. According to Holloway et al. (2003, p. 1)
“the specialty may include, but not be limited to, any of the following areas”
Applies to crop dusting
Creating insect and disease resistant seed.
Protecting farm soil from erosion.
Preserving wetland areas in fields.
E-business and information technology
Processing agriculture loans
Processing natural and drug-free cattle registration paperwork
Procuring replacement livestock through internet-viewed livestock sales
Creating agricultural computer software programs
Rural wind turbines
Farm loan advisor
Field erosion prevention
Rehabilitative work with injured farmers
Personal care on distant ranches
Personal healthcare preventative education
Dairy farm managers
Crop farm managers.
Participating by raising Verified Natural Beef that qualify for international shipment
Farm employment managerial positions
Participation in local commission board panels
Participation in local and state livestock regulatory groups
Editor of farm or agriculture magazine
Representative for livestock organizations
Science and technology
Genetic research (animal and crop)
Commodity procurement for feedlots
Agricultural retail businesses merchandise procurment
Several Canadian colleges offer MBAs with a related agriculture specialty. Athabasca
College has students enrolled in their agriculture-MBA program with farming backgrounds and other related fields such as:
Research and development” ((Holloway et al., 2003, p. 1).
The students must take specified business classes and finish with other agriculture-related classes of their choice. The agri-MBA will allow the students to pursue employment in several areas, such as a commodity broker, as an agent at the Farm Service Agency, or as an animal pharmaceutical health sales manager.
Guelph College offers an agriculture-MBA with classes in farming and farming financial management/business. In addition, Laval University also offers an agriculture-MBA in agri-food management, and requires multi-language classes. “Its MBA in agri-food management is a collaboration between its own business school and the faculty of agricultural and food sciences” ((Holloway et al., 2003, p. 1). “This particular type of MBA in agri-food management was designed for people who have a degree in food or agri-food science, or who have another degree and at least three years’ related experience” (Holloway et al., 2003, p. 1). Many farms now request their employees be bi-lingual, so the multi-language classes would be very beneficial in a management position at a feedlot or milking facility with a multi-ethnic employee pool. These specialty degrees would assist students with obtaining employment in a management position in businesses such as a cannery, meat processing plant, cheese processing plant, or even in the restaurant management position. Douglas (1985) acknowledges “the issues of agriculture are compellingly important: they resolve to the proper nourishment of the world’s growing population for the indefinite future” (p. 12). The MBA in agri-food management is a degree relevant to many areas of employment and worldly concern.
United States Colleges
Several United States’ colleges also offer agriculture-MBAs. University of Nebraska offers an agriculture business/Master of Science degree. It incorporates agri-business into their M. S. degree to give the student an agriculture business Master degree. “Some of the areas students may specialize in at the University Of Nebraska (2010, p. 1) include:
Water Resources Planning and Management
Great Plains Studies”.
Streeten (1967) states in a study about development policy, “A breakthrough in agriculture is necessary for at least five reasons, namely, it is necessary in order to feed and supply with raw materials the rapidly growing and indeed increasingly rapidly growing population”
(abstract, p. 1). Drucker (1993) acknowledges “The United States still has the world’s strongest agricultural base, even though farmers now constitute only 3 percent of the working population” (p. 72). The University of Nebraska offers their students a graduate degree in several agriculture related areas that are applicable to many disciplines of employment positions. An agri-business degree from the University of Nebraska would give a potential employee an advantage over someone with a non-agriculture background. The University of Nebraska graduate with an agri-business degree would be able to become involved in watershed management, pasture land management, DNR erosion problems, and lagoon/manure waste management for feedlots. According to Borsari (2001) “the new generation of professionals in agriculture must better understand agricultural and environmental issues from the sustainable perspective” (p. 336). Devising a plan to farm without ruining or disrupting the ecological situation has become an important factor in preserving the American farm. Becoming knowledgeable in this area would make a mixed business degree very beneficial to gain employment in these areas. Ag1Source Professional Personnel Solutions agency works with job seekers and employers to match the properly trained person with the appropriate employer. If someone wanted employment assistance, some of the areas Ag1SourceProfessional Personnel Solutions are involved with are:
Farm and Ranch
Equipment” (Ag1Source Professional Personnel Solutions, 2003).
This website utilizes a form that all potential employers and employees must fill out prior to being considered as a customer. Potential employees are questioned on their previous training and education relevant to agriculture work. Ag1Source Professional Personnel Solutions (2003) states “We utilize an approach to identify and attract only those people that can make a difference in your organization” (p. 1). Obviously relevant training and education is going to be under strict scrutiny prior to being selected as a potential employee.
Purdue University also offers an agriculture-based graduate master’s degree. Their program is called The Agriculture and Extension Graduate Program. Saunders (2003), who is the head of the Graduate program, states in the college website that “Purdue University’s graduate studies program in Agricultural and Extension Education in the Youth Development and Agricultural and Agricultural Department prepares individuals for professional careers as educators in both school and non-school settings. The goals of our program are to teach students how to develop and implement programs that prepare individuals for the agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources in our daily living” (p. 1). According to Rockman, (2004) “In this globally connected world, with its growing population and vast amounts of information, the ability to continually learn, to be able to find and evaluate useful information, to think critically, and to solve problems is of increasing importance” (p. 66). Both statements support the benefits of obtaining an agriculture-based Master’s degree. Rockman (2004) agrees that “information literacy principles can be integrated into transition courses, as well as into core research classes in the discipline” (p. 17). The education will prepare students for a variety of positions varying from teaching to marketing, maintaining our natural resources in the fields and in our public parks.
Correlations Between the Various Types of Specialty MBA Degrees and Agriculture
Colleges have changed their curriculum and are now offering numerous Master of Business degrees with an agricultural specialty. The specialties vary from business issues to more hands-on farm issues. A degree with one of the specialties will allow a graduate to pursue employment in many areas that would not be possible without agriculture knowledge.
Aviation applies to more areas than simply commercial flights; it is quite popular South Dakota, where the fields are very large and the areas are free from obstructions, to apply fertilizer and pesticides by air. The crop dusters are contract workers who generally own their plane. It is season work that occurs throughout the growing season.
Biotechnology involves creating problem-free strains of crop seeds and genetic engineering. This profession demands an extensive science background plus knowledge of crop issues. The crop knowledge is required to be able to engineer a seed capable of withstanding the particular problem that crop is being stressed by. Information technology would be used when working with the varied testing equipment and computer programs.
Sustainable development is very important to the preservation of fields and wetlands
It is more equitable if soil erosion is prevented instead of corrected. Once crucial top soil is lost, it is very difficult to replace the nutrients and raise a quality crop. Wetlands create clean water by buffering the runoff water prior to entering the rivers and watershed areas.
E-business is more common to farmers than most people realize. They constantly deal with prices impacted by foreign exchanges. Many farmers address international business regulations if they raise livestock that are licensed to be shipped internationally. Information technology is used everyday in their tractor Global Positioning Systems, and with their livestock management software programs.
Energy management involves farm-related processes such as manure distribution on previously used crop fields. Farmers must test the soil and receive a mineral analysis prior to manure application. Many ranches still utilize windmills to generate water for cattle in large pastures. If someone wants employment in this field, windmill farms are becoming more popular across Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota.
Farmers are the ultimate business entrepreneur. They take the full blame and credit for their business success or failure. They provide the operating finances, pay the bills, and bank the profit.
Forestry management involves maintaining windbreaks between fields and roads, using coverage to prevent erosion, and also as protection for the home site and barns. This knowledge helps prevent many physical problems associated with the weather elements.
Health administration can be related to actual medical work in rehabilitation centers for injured farmers or implemented in a private manner on the farm where emergency assistance is likely to be over an hour away for many ranches.
Human resource management knowledge is important to people who employ others or work in a managerial position on large beef, dairy, or crop farms. Possessing leadership skills is important if one if responsible for organizing employees’ work duties, and implementing the necessary changes daily plans requires.
Employment as a manager in charge of supply-chain management may involve procuring commodities for a farm, or working at a public retail business selling agriculture equipment. Public relations is important in both situations as one would be required to deal with people on a one-to-one basis ordering and selling goods.
As you can see, a Master of Business degree with an agriculture specialty has many applications in the job market. Potential employees would be well-equipped to obtain employment in professional fields as well as farm positions. Information is going to be a key ingredient in determining one’s employment position in the years to come. “Information society theorists look forward to the rise of a new service class of knowledge workers, men and women whose work is characterized by high levels of technical skill and theoretical knowledge, and which correspondingly demands long periods of education and training” (Webster et al., 2004,
p. 112). Higher education is going to be required in many fields. Webster et al. (2004) explains that “knowledge, according to information society theorists, is progressively supposed to affect work in two ways. One is the upgrading of the knowledge content of existing work, in the sense that the new technology adds rather than subtracts from the skill of workers. The other is the creation and expansion of new work in the knowledge sector, such that information workers come to predominate in the economy” (p. 111). The new information society is upon us and if one is to be successful, one needs to be well educated. Rost (1993) also concurs that “leadership is one of the concepts and practices that will be transformed as Western societies move from an industrial to a postindustrial paradigm” (p. 127). Knowledge workers are the new employees of the current society.
After researching the numerous colleges that offered MBA degrees with an agriculture specialty, it is obvious this type of a degree is applicable to many employment fields. There are a variety of fields available for study, which would allow all potential students to choose a college with a specialty degree of their liking whether it is business or hands-on farm oriented. I have concluded from my study that a Master of Business degree with an agriculture specialty is a viable degree that is relevant to a divers employment field.