Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Interconnection and transformation of small farmers through dragon enterprises


In the context of the transformation and vulnerability of over 500 million smallholder farmers in the global south, the emergence of digital technology (DT) has brought both challenges and opportunities for them to adapt and access to external markets through newly emerged “dragon enterprises” (enterprises thereafter).

This is particularly true in China where many famous dragon enterprises (e.g. Alibaba, Jindong, PDD) provide various services to small farmers nationwide. Bearing in mind the competition and variety among those enterprises in terms of business strategy and operation mechanisms, a salient question arises about the establishment, maintenance and development of partnerships between enterprises and farmers, a key factor responsible for sustainable agriculture and successful transformation of small farmers.

Based upon a collaboration between CFRS (UK-China ECR Consortium of Future Rural Studies) and Dabeinong Group (DBN, 大北农集团), this project aims to support promised together early career researchers (ECRs) to address following questions: 

  1. How have DT and government policies (e.g. cooperative development, poverty alleviation) influenced the development of enterprises in the past decade? And what differences can be recognised between enterprises in terms of business models?
  2. What are the variations of the relationship between enterprises and farmers in terms of mutual trust, business collaboration and profit distribution? And what are the key factors or conditions in establishing a stable, dynamic partnership?
  3. What changes happened in the relationship between enterprises and farmers in the past? 
  4. How has the partnership influenced the transformation of farmers in terms of attitudes, perceptions, behaviours and standards? And what are good cases in terms of the impact of the partnership development on local ecological environment, industrial revitalisation and sustainable rural transition?

Dependent upon the interests of ECRs and availability of resources, a number of projects and sites for empirical researches will be selected to support. 

ECRs: Boli Shi (DBN), An Chen (DBN), Kamal Alskaf and Qian Yang (UoN), Yanhua Yan (CNIS).

Mentors: Bin Wu (UoN), Gubo Qi (CAU)

Contact: Boli Shi 

Nottingham University Business School

Jubilee Campus

Email: ingenuitylab@nottingham.ac.uk