Strategizing beyond boundaries: policy entrepreneurship for climate-smart agriculture

Marijn Faling

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Many contemporary climate change and food security initiatives, including climate-smart agriculture (CSA), call for connecting and integrating different government levels, policy domains, and organizations. This boundary-crossing is frequently accompanied by difficulties including turf wars and power struggles, which risk to thwart policy development. Although the literature argues that policy entrepreneurship contributes to the crossing of level, domain, and organizational boundaries, knowledge on these dynamics is fragmented, and insights into entrepreneurial strategies, and how these are embedded in the policymaking context, are limited.

Consequently, the aim of this dissertation is to understand how policy entrepreneurship contributes to the crossing of boundaries to achieve CSA. The aim is addressed through three research questions:

How and why do policy entrepreneurs cross boundaries for climate-smart agriculture?

How does the policymaking context influence cross-boundary policy entrepreneurship for climate-smart agriculture?

How can cross-boundary policy entrepreneurship in the policy process for climate-smart agriculture be conceptualized?

To understand policy entrepreneurship’s contribution to the crossing of boundaries, the dissertation focuses on two case studies of CSA policy development: the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, and the National Climate-Smart Agriculture Strategy in Kenya. These cases have been studied through a mixed-methods research design, including a systematic literature review, congruence analysis, and frame analysis.

The dissertation proposes a conceptual framework that describes cross-boundary policy entrepreneurship as a complex set of strategies that interplay with the policymaking context. This strategizing process is characterized by entrepreneurship interpreting and acting upon the policymaking context in order to reconfigure the policy process, with both intended and unintended effects. This is an ongoing process, whereby the dynamic policymaking context requires entrepreneurs to continuously reassess their strategies. The key strategies to cross boundaries include patchwork framing, impartial leadership, and process manipulation. The policymaking context is characterized by differences in interests, ideas, and institutions.

Although many strategies can influence the ideas, interests, and institutions in certain levels, domains, and organizations, my findings show that patchwork framing serves mostly to adapting interests, whereas impartial leadership and process manipulation are predominantly linked to altering ideas and institutions, respectively. Through their actions, entrepreneurs are continuously engaged in defining and redrawing boundaries. In order to accommodate different actors entrepreneurs kept the boundaries of CSA consciously vague. Despite various resulting challenges including to work with differing interests, facilitate idea exchange in light of distrust, and face eroding support for initiatives, the entrepreneurs in both the analysed cases managed to realize CSA policy development.

This dissertation shows that whereas CSA accommodates the continued existence of differences in ideas and interests and enables the rebranding of existing practices, simultaneously it streamlines discussions and facilitates the creation of new initiatives. However, contrary to the often highlighted notion of CSA as radical transformation, it rather signifies a small but significant reconfiguration of existing policies.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Termeer, Katrien, Promotor
  • Biesbroek, Robbert, Co-promotor
  • Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Sylvia, Co-promotor
Award date27 May 2019
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463439558
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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