Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Matthew P. Knight


Agribusiness leaders in emerging economies require effective business model innovation strategies to succeed in closing innovation gaps and increasing market share in the growing smallholder farmers' market. Small agribusiness seed companies in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in southern Africa often face the challenge of closing the innovation gap in the smallholders' market, resulting in small-scale seed companies missing 90% of the smallholder farmers' seed market segment. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore strategies that small agribusiness seed company leaders used to close innovation gaps in smallholders' markets. The conceptual framework was based on the business model innovation(BMI). Ten agribusiness seed company executives selected for their innovations in smallholder markets shared their experiences with and insights into strategies that they successfully designed and implemented in closing innovation gaps in the smallholders' market. Data were collected using semistructured interviews. The data analysis process followed De Massis and Kotlar 5-phase analysis cycle: from interview responses analysis to member checking and a review of documents on seed businesses and BMI. Three themes emerged from the data analysis: seed production model, product and market differentiation, and value chain partnerships. The implications of this study for social change are that the results could improve food and nutrition security for more than 51 million impoverished smallholder farmers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.