Nuove strategie di disseminazione e figure emergenti: gli innovation brokers + Beyond dissemination of research findings: innovation brokers as emerging figures in stimulating agricultural innovation

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More and more it is recognised that innovation cannot be explained by a linear approach to innovation in which public sector agricultural research and extension delivers new technology in a pipeline configuration through a dissemination approach, but calls for systems approach in which innovation is the result of a process of networking, interactive learning and negotiation among a heterogeneous set of actors (Leeuwis, 2004; Röling, 2009). The systems approach recognises that agricultural innovation is not just about adopting new technologies; it also requires a balance amongst new technical practices and alternative ways of organising, for example, markets, labour, land tenure and distribution of benefits (Dormon et al., 2007). Recently, a blending of insights from the agricultural innovation literature and industrial innovation literature has resulted in the concept of agricultural innovation systems(Pant and Hambly-Odame, 2009; Röling, 2009). A national agricultural innovation system (AIS) is defined by World Bank (2006, as ‘a network of organisations, enterprises, and individuals focused on bringing new products, new processes, and new forms of organisation into economic use, together with the institutions and policies that affect the way different agents interact, share, access, exchange and use knowledge’. Beyond researchers, extension agents and farmers, an AIS consists of all types of public, private and civil society actors, such as inputs and processing industry actors, agricultural traders, retailers, policymakers, consumers and NGOs. Besides stressing the fact that innovation requires involvement of many actors and effective interactions amongst these, the AIS approach recognises the influential role of institutions (i.e. laws, regulations, attitudes, habits, practices, incentives) in shaping how actors interact (World Bank, 2006). For AIS to function and enhance innovation capacity in developing countries’ agricultural sectors, the literature emphasises the need to come to shared visions, have well-established linkages and information flows amongst different public and private actors, conducive institutional incentives that enhance cooperation, adequate market, legislative and policy environments, and well-developed human capital (Spielman et al., 2008)However, creating and fostering effective linkages amongst heterogeneous sets of actors (i.e. the formation of adequate innovation configurations, coalitions, PPPs) is often hindered by different technological, social, economic and cultural divides (Pant and Hambly-Odame, 2006). From an innovation systems perspective, the importance of having intermediary organisations that sit between and connect different actors involved in innovation trajectories countries is becoming apparent. This type of intermediary should not just mediate a one-to-one relationship, but rather be a systemic intermediary, an in-between in a many-to-many relationship (Howells, 2006). These systemic intermediaries act as innovation brokers, whose main purpose is to build appropriate linkages in AIS and facilitate multi-stakeholder interaction in innovation. So far, the agricultural sector has relied mainly on public sector intermediaries such as agricultural extension services, often with questionable effectiveness and a limited mandate to play such a systemic intermediary role (Leeuwis, 2004; Rivera and Sulaiman, 2009). Innovation brokering implies moving beyond dissemination of information, as many ‘traditional’ extensionists do, but actively forge multi actor partnerships for innovation
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)22-26
Number of pages5
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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