Scale dynamics of grassroots innovation and the crooked pathways of transformative change

F. Hermans, L.W.A. Klerkx, D. Roep

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Grassroots innovations are often desirable for the development of sustainable innovations because of its inclusion of many types of local stakeholders. However its practical implementation is often fraught with difficulties. One of the main problems is that the involvement of stakeholders in grassroots innovation often leads to a unique solution that is difficult to apply in other contexts, with other groups of stakeholders, or at other times. It is therefore an open question how such grassroots innovations can achieve transformative change across scales and have a wider impact beyond the people directly involved in their initial development. In this paper we will address the questions of 1) how grassroots innovations for sustainable agriculture go to scale and 2) the consequences of crossing different scales and levels on the character of the innovation itself. Although it is recognized that grassroots innovations can significantly change in meaning through a process of upscaling, the process through which innovative approaches themselves are transformed when crossing scales is not yet well understood. Building on the analysis of cross-scale dynamics in socio-ecological system, we have applied five different scales to investigate the different mechanisms that occurred in the spread of a particular form of low external input dairy farming in the Netherlands. The results call attention to dimension of power and politics in transformation processes and the distributed agency of different innovation coalitions working on the same innovative practice that results in ‘crooked pathways’ of transformative change.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventTransformations2015, Stockholm, Sweden -
Duration: 5 Oct 20157 Oct 2015


ConferenceTransformations2015, Stockholm, Sweden

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