Date of Conferral







Carol Wells


Many small farm farmers in the United States are reluctant to use information communication technology (ICT) and e-commerce, yet little is known about their decision-making rationale. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore U.S. small farm farmers' decision making, specifically, regarding use or non-use of e-commerce, in managing farm operations by using the Miles and Snow's typology of strategic management. The purposive sample consisted of 30 small farm farming operations in Kansas and Missouri with revenue less than $250,000 per annum. Data analysis was 3-tiered and involved use of horizontalization, thematic clustering, and synthesis. Using the Van Kaam method of data analysis, 4 themes emerged: (a) small farm farmers have a family-oriented farming experience with complex factors that lead to the reliance on fellow farmers for information and support; (b) small farm farmers rely on fellow farmers for advice and support as well as the use of established procedures in their farming operations; (c) while small farm farmers see the value in ICT in farming, many view it as either impractical or non-applicable for their own operations; and (d) small farm farmers recognized that ICT has a positive impact on farms productivity, income, and growth. However, some small farm farmers were reluctant to adopt ICT due to expenditure, location, and farm size concerns. Study findings also highlighted a few business models such as community-supported agriculture investment that small farm farmers use to enhance their daily farm operations. With insights from the study, small farm farmers in the United States may be able to improve their understanding of e-commerce applications, which could potentially lead to increased annual profits for these farmers, new customers and consistent product pricing for consumers.