Micro and macro-level approaches to modelling decision making

M. J. McGregor, M. F. Rola-Rubzen, R. Murray-Prior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Farm households form a significant unit of study for the rural policy analyst as it is at this level of aggregation that the decisions to participate in government policy initiatives and to adopt new technologies are taken, although the true micro-level impacts of such decisions might be felt more acutely at the intra-household level. This paper describes a range of modelling approaches that have been used to represent micro-level decision making related to sustainable agricultural development. While none of the examples was undertaken in a pluralistic framework, they illustrate that two or more methodologies can be integrated so that the complementarity and/or conflict between the results would enhance the quality of the outcomes. The paper argues that because of the integrated nature of the relationship between the farm household (or the decision-making unit), the farming system, and the environment, more progress can be made by using more than one methodology even though their assumptions may be incompatible and their results imply different solutions to the problem. The dialogue created by this diversity will provide better solutions than a reliance on one paradigm and its associated methodologies. One methodological approach will not be sufficient to capture the decision-making process and its subsequent impacts and a pluralist approach is advocated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages21
JournalAgricultural Systems
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


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