Report Synopsis

Change. Increasing the adoption of technology in the Australian beef industry

William Harrington

Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Change is also necessary for survival in everyday life. Agriculture is no exception. This report examines the process of change in the northern Australian beef industry and provides some context and history to help understand why the beef industry is where it is. The outcomes and recommendations for this report can however be applied more broadly to agriculture in general and even to other industries outside of agriculture.

Resistance to change is a trait that is part of human nature. This was seen throughout this Nuffield Scholarship. It didn’t matter if it was a small village in Kenya, a modern dairy farm in Europe or a beef ranch in Texas.

Change is also necessary for the survival of any business. The world does not sit still and things are constantly changing. To be able to deal with change it is important to understand and to manage the process of change.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein (Calaprice, 2010)

There are many ways individuals, businesses, industries and even governments can bring about change in an industry. First and foremost they need to understand the process of change. There are many different models that can be used including the adoption curve and the Satir change model (explored in this report). These models can be used to understand the status quo and lend insight into how to manage groups and change at different times.

It is important to foster and nurture change; this can be done by supporting the early adopters of change and providing trusted advisers they can speak with to help them through the process.

There are several things that can be done to support change in the northern beef industry. These approaches can include emphasising the value of education to the industry, demonstrating the value of training and an improvement in the communications infrastructure in northern Australia to enable better dissemination of ideas. The final and least popular way to bring on change is through the use of regulation. This is unpopular but sometimes required, or can, at least, provide an impetus toward change.

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