The Evolution of an Industry and a Seminar
While agriculture is ancient, agribusiness as a field of study emerged from research and conceptual frameworks developed at Harvard Business School in the 1950s. Spearheading these efforts was Ray A. Goldberg, George M. Moffett Professor of Agriculture and Business, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, who developed the "agribusiness" concept and conducted seminal research with Professor Wassily Leontief. Working with John H. Davis, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Goldberg developed a conceptual agribusiness framework that formed the basis of the School's MBA elective course in agribusiness management.
From its beginning more than 50 years ago, the Agribusiness Seminar has been ahead of its time. Several unique factors have contributed to the program's futuristic orientation—a dedicated focus on global and regional trends; change makers' active role in case development; the recognition that this thriving market system is also a political, societal, and economic developmental system; and representation from all participants of the value-added system, as well as from consumer groups and government leaders.
In essence, this annual HBS seminar has helped to create a growing profession. Today more than 100 agribusiness programs are offered around the globe. The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), created in 1990, has more than 950 members in more than 50 countries.
With so much to learn in this rapidly advancing field, new materials are created for each annual Agribusiness Seminar offering, attracting many executives to participate in the program year after year. The Agribusiness Seminar will continue to build on its impressive legacy to educate global leaders for years to come. As David E. Bell, the program faculty chair, has observed: "With innovation at the heart of every successful agribusiness initiative, proactive leadership has become a mandate for organizations today. In the School's ongoing effort to develop knowledgeable, forward-thinking industry leaders, it is critical that our case studies focus on the latest trends, key challenges, and innovative strategies impacting agribusiness worldwide."