Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 39–52 | Cite as

Converting or not converting to organic farming in Austria:Farmer types and their rationale

  • Ika Darnhofer
  • Walter  Schneeberger
  • Bernhard Freyer


Reasons for converting to organic farming have been studied in a number of instances. However, the underlying rationale that motivates the behavior is not always made clear. This study aims to provide a detailed picture of farmers’ decision-making and illustrate the choice between organic and conventional farm management. Based on 21 interviews with farmers, a decision-tree highlighting the reasons and constraints involved in the decision of farmers to use, or not to use, organic production techniques was formulated. The accuracy of the decision-tree was tested through a written survey of 65 randomly sampled farmers. The decision-tree permits the identification of decision criteria and examines the decision-making process of farmers in choosing their farming method. It also allows for the characterization of farmer strategies and values, identifying five types of farmers: the “committed conventional;” the “pragmatic conventional;” the “environment-conscious but not organic;” the “pragmatic organic;” and the “committed organic.” The importance of taking into account heterogeneity in farmers’ attitudes, preferences, and goals and their impact on the choice of a farming method is emphasized.


Austria Decision-tree Farmer decision-making Motivation Organic farming 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ika Darnhofer
    • 1
  • Walter  Schneeberger
    • 1
  • Bernhard Freyer
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Agricultural and Forestry EconomicsViennaAustria
  2. 2.Institute for Organic FarmingUniversity of Natural Resources and Applied Life SciencesViennaAustria

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