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Master's Thesis Defense

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Chase Baker

on 11 May 2014

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Transcript of Master's Thesis Defense

Public Communication & Technology
The Rundown
#1 Proposal Recap
#2 Research Process
#3 Research Questions
#4 Key Findings
#5 The Defense!
So What are we doing today?
(Brenner, 2013)
67% of adults check their cell phones for messages or notifications without hearing a ring or feeling a vibration.
44% of cell phone owners were so worried about missing a call or text during the night that they slept with their phone by their bed.
29% admitted that their mobile devices were so valuable to them that they had difficulty imagining life without their phones.
A Fastline (2013) study reports that nearly one out of four 1,000+ acre farmers who own a smartphone are using Facebook while on their equipment. Also, nearly 49% of farmers are using their mobile devices to research equipment while they are operating the equipment.
Are ranchers ready to abandon conventional methods of branding in favor of a technological approach?
of Innovations
Acceptance Model
of innovations
Uses &
Rogers (1995) declares four main facets
Communication Channels
Social System
Perceived Usefulness + Perceived Ease-of-Use
Attitude toward using
Behavioral Intention
"non-adoption . . . is an active state arising out of the structural arrangement of the economy" (Yapa & Mayfield, 1978, p. 145).
Cost - Dislike for Technology - Infrastructural issues
Severin and Tankard (1997) note that surveillance is a strong catalyst of media consumption. People often use media to seek out information that is beneficial to their lives.
Would the ability to seek out enhanced data and herd-related information incentivize ranchers to use the mobile app?
Research Questions
From the ranchers’ perspectives, what are the relative advantages and disadvantages of conventional branding methods compared with technology-oriented methods?
What factors influence ranchers’ decisions to adopt or not adopt a new, technology-oriented method of branding and identifying cattle?
What elements of branding and the ranching lifestyle necessitate a unique approach to technology adoption?
In-depth, semi-structured personal interviews.
An Inner view of the ranching lifestyle.
Research Process
Mixture of purposive Sampling
& Snowball Sampling
From the ranchers’ perspective, what are the relative advantages and disadvantages of conventional branding methods compared with technology-oriented methods?
Perceived Usefulness
Increased Profit
- Wouldn't waste time if it didn't increase profit
- Genetic optimization (similar to how a GMO increases a crop yield)
- burning brands into their hides creates stress.
- Simply injecting a chip would be less stressful and could prevent weight loss
- Alternative to "red books" with enhanced data visualization
- Traditional record keeping is vulnerable
“They could be dropped
in the mud. They could be lost . . .
My other friend over here, she
washed her husband's red
book . . . If they didn't love
each other so much it
could have been
a divorce.”
Perceived Ease-of-Use
Use of Technology
- No concerns about his or her ability to use the mobile interface
- The ease of using this technology would eliminate complexities of the branding process (e.g., weather, creating a visually clean brand, time, etc.).
- However, calves still need to be brought in for vaccinations / castration
- A less laborious branding process would eliminate the need for hired help
- Ranchers don't have time to input data in the evenings
One person [to spend half their life] in front of a computer doing all this stuff. It’s totally ridiculous. some people may find it neat . . . but I think 90 percent of the people will find it a pain in the [butt] to tell you the truth.
- Most of the ranchers were in favor of the ability for beef to be traced back to their ranch if a major issue arose with the beef quality
- Concerns revolved around the potential for one unfortunate circumstance to give the entire area a black eye. Who is liable after it leaves the rancher?
What factors influence ranchers’ decisions to adopt or not adopt a new, technology-oriented method of branding and identifying cattle?
Ranchers' Technology Use
- Only one respondent didn't mention age as a significant factor of adoption
- Participants described a younger rancher to be the type that would use the GPS mobile app
- Respondents mentioned their dads as examples of the older ranching generation's hesitancy to adopt
- "Like an old mother hen gets down in the dirt, you know, and just fluffs up [her] feathers. don’t disturb me. I’m comfortable the way I am." - David
- Older generation is becoming less involved
- 8/9 participants use an Apple device
- Every single participant owns a smartphone and is familiar with apps
- Many reported owning multiple devices (e.g., ipads, iphones, laptops, etc.)
- many reported usage of technology for their operations (taking pictures of parts)
- Five participants mentioned that they use GPS for their operations
“I don’t know that I would jump both feet in and just go gung ho at it,” said Mitchell. “I think it’d be a transition and maybe try on a limited basis and see how it works. And then transition to it.”
Five participants expressed a desire to see that the technology has been proven to work before adopting.
The ability to monitor a herd's location was appealing to the participants, especially for pastures that are not contiguous.
Karolina mentioned that a rancher could track grazing patterns with the application, which could enhance range management.
Type of Usage
All but one participant indicated that their general purpose of media use was for utility in relation to their agricultural practices.
Most participants voiced concern about the price to purchase the technology or of paying a specialist to insert the GPS microchip.
Limitations of Technology
- IS GPS Always accurate?
- Battery Life
- Storms can disrupt Internet service
- Many ranches are located in areas that have unreliable internet service coverage
Attitude Toward Technology
Privacy a major concern.
Not in favor of their data being accessed by third-party organizations
.... but, why?!
Nothing will stop a conversation in an ag family quicker than ‘How many cows do you have?’
So that's a privacy issue, and the ag industry is very private. Sometimes to our own detriment.
A generational Gap exists. Younger ranchers have grown up in the public eye, and Those who didn't distrust the way their data could be used against them.
Distrust of Technology
- Chips would not be safe.. even under the hide.
- One participant voiced concern over the potential of hacking -- physically or virtually.
"What if my cow goes off the grid because the chip was deactivated?"
"What if the system goes down and all my information disappears?"
What elements of branding and the ranching lifestyle necessitate a unique approach to technology adoption?
Felt need
- Brand inspection.
- Proof of ownership.
- Enforcement.
“The main reason why we change what we do is either it makes life easier or because somebody tells us we have to,” said Jacquelyn.
- Device Compatibility.
- Size of operation.
- Larger areas, especially ones that are not connected, could benefit more than smaller operations.
- Need to be hands-on.
- The technology could create a bad habit of less frequent in-person monitoring.
Social Elements.
Brand Affinity.
Influence of others.
Participants talked about Branding as more than just a day of work.
"it's just a different atmosphere in the air that day, you know, and everyone looks forward to it. And we try to always have like a really nice meal afterwards so it's kind of like a team building also . . . It's just a—it's different than any other ol' day, you know, everybody wants to be there. " - Dallace
- Many brands have been passed down from one generation to the next over the span of a hundred years.
- "Branding to me is a traditional thing. I can smell the smoke. I can feel the dirt. It's just something I've grown up with. It's engrained in me." - Jacquelyn
- There is an apparent emotional / sentimental connection to the tradition of branding.
- Eight out of nine participants expressed strong positive feelings toward their brand.
- the brand is more than a symbol... it's an identity.
- Brands are used to market ranchers' products (hats, belt buckles, etc.).
- the data suggest that ranchers have a strong influence on each other's adoption habits.
Keep consumers happy
Bring technology home from school
Darren got an iPhone to keep up with his family
"Give us a choice, we'll do whatever you want. Give us a demand, we'll do nothing." - Karolina
#1. Ranchers clearly value their work as a lifestyle and have a strong connection to their brands.
#2. Ranchers are gradually becoming more tech savvy. They are comfortable using technology but don't fully trust it.
#3. Enforcement obstacles make the idea of adopting this technology difficult to grasp.
So... What's the final verdict?
Ranchers are not ready to adopt a technological branding technique.
They do see how the GPS-based mobile application could enhance their operations and would try the technology. However, they would also continue to brand the traditional way.
Future Research
We now know more about the adoption habits of a very specific demographic.
Perhaps this data will help individuals introduce technological innovations to the agricultural industry.
Future studies could examine ranchers' distrust of technology or the strong affinity for the lifestyle as a whole.
Thank You!
What questions can I answer?
Brenner, J. (18 Sept. 2013). Pew Internet: Mobile. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/February/Pew-Internet-Mobile.aspx

Fastline. (2013). Mobile device use. Retrieved from http://static.fastline.com/assets/static/SurveyResults_Fastline.pdf

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York, NY: Free press.

Severin, W. J., & Tankard, J. W. (1997). Communication theories: Origins, methods, and uses in the mass media (4th ed.). New York, NY: Longman.

Yapa, L. S., & Mayfield, R. C. (1978). Non-adoption of innovations: evidence from discriminant analysis. Economic Geography, 54(2), 145-156.
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