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The identification and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities on family-owned estates in the north-east of Scotland.

Grant, Graham A.I.




Family-owned estates face challenges achieving economic stability. Estate owners, including those in the North East of Scotland (the focus of this study) are committed to perpetuating family ownership. To enable this, entrepreneurial diversification is advocated by both landowner associations and rural consultancies. However, upper-class estate owners have historically been perceived to be reluctant to engage in entrepreneurial activities and some remain so. With other remunerative options available to them, this research investigates the identification and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities by estate owners in the North East of Scotland. Multiple perspectives drawn from institutional and entrepreneurial theory provide insights into estate owners' embeddedness in the institutions of family and social class, and their influence on the socially-constructed nature of entrepreneurial motivations, personality and process. Individual case studies of estate owners in the North East of Scotland provide rich insights into what activities estate owners engage in, and how and why they identify and exploit entrepreneurial opportunities. Cross-case analysis identifies patterns of similarity and difference between individual estates. Case-state estate owners are found to engage in similar ranges of activities, with a minority identifying and exploiting differentiated opportunities. Motivations are layered in nature. Explicit commitments to community and implicit commitments to family motivate estate owners to ensure continued financial stability of their estates. Awareness and identification of estate resources are push factors for estate owners to engage in entrepreneurial activities. Their entrepreneurial process consists of multiple, overlapping journeys, which consist of phases of awareness, identification, development, action and outcomes. Estate owners whose continued entrepreneurial activities have short-term requirements have retained traditional identities of estate owners or farmers, whereas those whose activities are planned to continue over a longer time are those who have embraced - albeit partially - entrepreneurial identities. Contributions have been made to theory and understanding in the areas of entrepreneurial process, personality and motivation. Contributions to policy and practice include recommendations to support estate owners engaging in entrepreneurial activities, aimed at both enterprise and/or landowner support organisations as well as policy makers. Finally, methodological contributions are made to the process of sampling and interviewing elites, and the use of individual case studies of elites and cross-case analysis.


GRANT, G.A.I. 2020. The identification and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities on family-owned estates in the north-east of Scotland. Robert Gordon University [online], PhD thesis. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 21, 2020
Keywords Estates; Family estates; Upper-class landowners; Family-run businesses; Entrepreneurial behaviour; Entrepreneurship
Public URL
Award Date Apr 30, 2020


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