Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Cornelia B. Flora


Interest has grown considerably during recent years around what Lyson's (2004) calls "civic agriculture," the localization of food production with the conscious goal of contributing to local sustainable development. A central challenge facing the growth civic agriculture has been methodological; what techniques can be used to support collective action towards this new era of agriculture? In this dissertation, I examine knowledge management using a "community of practice" as one method that shows particular promise. I detail the operations of the Small Meat Processors Working Group, a community of practice among technical assistance providers, regulators, and meat locker operators which focuses on holistic knowledge management in order to solve real world problems. The community of practices shares knowledge in ways that bureaucratic structures cannot manage, as theorized by Habermas' (1987) "communicative rationality." The Small Meat Processors Working Group (SMPWG) is one of five working groups in Value Chain Partnerships, a contemporary, multi-organization, extension/outreach project in Iowa. In detailing the operations of the SMPWG, I analyze the process of creating three extension publications, which are included in the dissertation. The processes through which the publications were created and the materials themselves illustrate how tacit, contextual, and explicit knowledge can be holistically managed and collectively refined to solve concrete challenges, then cooperatively made available and put to practical use by wider audiences.

Copyright Owner

Arion Thiboumery



Date Available


File Format


File Size

197 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons