The influence of multi-stakeholder platforms on farmers' innovation and rural development in emerging economies: a systematic literature review

Carlos L. Barzola Iza*, Domenico Dentoni, Onno S.W.F. Omta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Despite the increasing interest on multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) as novel organizational forms addressing grand challenges surrounding agri-food systems, the literature on how MSPs influence farmers' innovation remains scattered across sub-disciplines and geographies and, overall, of limited help for informing managerial and policy action and reflection. Design/methodology/approach: To address this gap, this systematic literature review (SRL) provides an overview on what MSPs are and how they influence farmers' innovation in emerging economies. Findings: The selected sample included n = 44 publications in 2004–2018, focussing for 70% on Africa, with minor shares in Latin America and Asia, and with a strong theoretical and methodological segmentation across five sub-disciplines (agribusiness management, agricultural economics, agricultural innovation systems, agricultural research for development and public policy and governance). Overall, this SRL leads to three findings. First, a key distinctive organizational feature of MSPs relative to other novel organizational forms in emerging economies entails the presence of a virtual and/or physical interface spanning across multiple heterogeneous stakeholders. Second, in relation to their impact pathways towards farmers' innovation, MSPs tend to achieve different intermediary outcomes and levels of innovation depending on their organizational goals and activities. Research limitations/implications: These findings also reveal four key limitations of the extant MSP literature – namely, disciplinary silos thinking, linear thinking, limited focus on the role of informal institutions and little emphasis on power dynamics – which could inform managers and policy makers on how MSPs could influence farmers; innovation. Originality/value: This study offers a SLR with the goal of providing practitioners and academics with first, a holistic view of the available research on the impact of MSPs on farmers innovation, and second, propose an impact pathway framework to understand how and under which circumstances MSPs support farmers' innovation given their functioning, structure and the governance mechanisms of MSPs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2020


  • Farmers’ innovation
  • Impact pathways
  • Multi-stakeholder platforms
  • Rural development


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