With the tremendous changes in political and economic systems of the Republic of Croatia after independence, new challenges have been put to the higher education system as well. The system used to be structured to serve a centrally planed economy with predominantly state ownership. Universities were producing graduates to be employed on statefa...rms,inagri-foodsystems(socalled„kombinats“),the state owned processing industry or cooperatives. The graduates were specialised in particular branches, such as crop production, vegetable production or livestock husbandry. Therefore, they were not educated to understand the whole system of a company or the agri-food system. In one word, they were not prepared to run firms as managers, although they were highly educated. Small and medium size entrepreneurs in agri-food business have been rather an exception than a rule, and prior to the transition there was not to much experience in managing, financing or marketing for such a firms.
The purpose of this paper is to explore recent trends in the Croatian agriculture and forestry business sector and compare it with the Croatian economy as a whole. This topic is considered interesting because recent business years have been heavily influenced by the global financial crisis. Many authors would say that agriculture, as a specific... branch of the economy, does not follow general trends, but is affected rather by other factors, especially such as environmental ones. The global financial crisis had the most negative impact on the Croatian economy in the 2008/2009 period, when the GDP growth rate tumbled from 2.4% to -5.8%. Although some positive movements have been recorded since 2009, a recession is still going on. Based on information from the National Financial Agency (FINA) database we found that during the period 2007-2011, agricultural firms experienced the same trends as the whole economy, except in terms of average monthly salaries and employment. However, due to the impact of / on? agricultural products prices and yields, in two year period from 2008 to 2010, agricultural firms recorded an almost linear fall in revenues, while the national business sector on the whole experienced a sharp fall in revenues in 2009 and then only a modest fall in 2010.
One of the most unwanted and unavoidable consequences of the economic recession is the high rate of unemployment. Graduate students in Croatia are faced with lack of employment possibilities, and for some of them the self-employment looks like a good solution. In this paper, we investigate attitudes and intentions of graduate students at the Un...iversity of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture regarding to selfemployment. Most of the surveyed students are in the age between 21 and 25 years, and they have already got some kind of knowledge about entrepreneurship during the formal education. In addition, majority of them have the experience of part-time jobs. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) model was used to find out to which extent students’ attitudes and experience influence their expressed self-employment intentions. The results revealed that Zagreb students’ scores are close but somewhat lower than the same scores found in the comparable study from Australia. This goes for the investigated variables: (1) previous entrepreneurial experience (PEE), perceived desirability of selfemployment (PDSE), perceived entrepreneurial self-efficacy (PESE) and self-employment intentions (SEI). It was found that the score on the PEE is significantly related to scores on the PDSE (p=0.000), and PESE (p=0.000), which means that the experience positively influence respondents’ attitudes on self-employment and self-efficacy. There is also a statistically significant difference in the on the SEI with respect to the PDSE (ANOVA F=9.804, p=0.000): respondents that consider self-employment more desirable expressed higher intention to perform it. The PDSE was found as the most influencing model variable in regards to the self-employment intention. The results points out the importance of previous experience, role models and positive attitudes towards self-employment in the process of the entrepreneurship development in young, educated population.