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Intermediaries in AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems) and SARD (Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development) Dr Alex Koutsouris (Assoc.

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Presentation on theme: "Intermediaries in AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems) and SARD (Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development) Dr Alex Koutsouris (Assoc."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intermediaries in AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems) and SARD (Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development) Dr Alex Koutsouris (Assoc. Prof.) Agricultural University of Athens

2 From reductionism to systems (I)
FROM the paradigm of experimental, reductionist science and a ‘culture of technical control’ -> reliance upon scientific experimentation to create a ‘fix’ for agricultural problems TO the realization of the inadequacy of linear and mechanistic thinking in understanding the source and the solutions of problems (re: sustainability) => SYSTEMS THINKING

3 From reductionism to systems (II)
SYSTEMIC APPROACHES: focus on the relationships among a system’s parts and on system dynamics, rather than the parts themselves. + biophysical problems are not isolated scientific or technical problems but are likely to be associated with problems of social change and stress -> the sustainability of agriculture is linked with processes of change and is closely associated with the dynamics of ecological and socio-economic change

4 From reductionism to systems (III)
social and ecological systems have to be treated as a single coupled and dynamically complex system (SES) FSR/E: helped to create awareness about the need for new ways to conduct research and extension, taking into account context and relations => the process of technology generation and adaptation should be responsive to the characteristics of the targeted farming systems, farmers’ objectives, and the conditions under which specific populations practice agriculture + PARTICIPATORY TURN

5 From NARS/ToT to AKIS (I)
The NARS approach, espousing a linear model of research, development, and extension, aimed at investments in agricultural research institutes and higher education institutions in order to strengthen research supply Extension: ToT (diffusion of innovations) model The Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems (AKIS) approach brought attention to the demand side factors

6 From NARS/ToT to AKIS (II)
AKIS aimed at integrating farmers, education, research and extension; it has been depicted as a triangular arrangement (knowledge triangle) with the farmer being placed at the centre/heart of this arrangement.

7 From NARS/ToT to AKIS (III)
The AIS/AKIS (I = Innovation) approach embraces the totality and interaction of actors involved in innovation and extends beyond the creation of knowledge to encompass the factors affecting demand for and use of knowledge in novel and useful ways greater and more explicit focus on the influence of institutions (i.e. organisations like companies, public research institutes and governmental entities) and infrastructures on learning and innovation; focus: to include all relevant organizations beyond agricultural research and extension systems

8 From NARS/ToT to AKIS (IV)
SoI approaches: national systems of innovation, technological systems and sociotechnical systems (Strategic Niche Management for either local projects or radical innovations) SoI approaches: the process of innovation is messy and complex; new ideas are developed and implemented by people who engage in networks and make adjustments in order to achieve desired outcomes -> LEARNING

9 AIS/AKIS-RD Learning within and between firms and organisations to innovate Strengthening individual and collective capabilities to innovate Demand and supply-driven science and technology Innovation agents focusing on complex and dynamic interactions Network-based knowledge dissemination Both embedded and dis-embedded knowledge dissemination: in both tacit and codified forms Decentralized management of innovation processes

10 Systemic failures (I) Infrastructural failures: (absence of) the physical infrastructure, investments in knowledge infrastructure (R&D facilities) and financial infrastructure Hard institutional failure: laws, regulations and any other formalised rules, or the lack of them, hampering innovation Soft institutional failure: unwritten rules, norms, values, culture, or ‘the way business is done’

11 Systemic failures (II)
Strong network failure: actors locked into their relationship, which causes myopia and blocks new ideas from outside and prohibits other potentially fruitful collaborations Weak network failure: a situation where actors are not well connected and fruitful cycles of learning and innovation may be prevented because there is no creative recombination of knowledge and resources

12 Systemic failures (III)
Capabilities failure: the lack of technical and organizational capacity of the system to adapt to and manage new technology and organizational innovations market structure failures: the positions of and relations between market parties including imperfections in the ‘knowledge market (Klerkx et al. 2012)

13 Intermediaries (I) New concepts and approaches (Knowledge management; Knowledge Transfer & Exchange; Knowledge Translation, etc.) => focus on processes (instead of the emphasis on structures) with knowledge conceived as being constructed through social interaction particular attention is given to (social) co-ordination and networking growing attention is given to various types of (process) ‘intermediaries/facilitators’

14 Intermediaries (II) third parties, (knowledge/technology) brokers, bridging organizations, intermediaries, boundary organizations, facilitators, etc. “An organization or body that acts as an agent or broker in any aspect of the innovation process between two or more parties. Such intermediary activities include: helping to provide information about potential collaborators; brokering a transaction between two or more parties; acting as a mediator, or go-between bodies or organizations that are already collaborating; and helping find advice, funding and support for the innovation outcomes of such collaborations.” (Howells, 2006)

15 Intermediaries (III) ‘Intermediaries’ are involved, taking an independent systemic role, in process facilitation rather than in the production (i.e., source) or dissemination (i.e., carrier) of innovation Or ‘Intermediaries’ are involved in ‘indirect’ innovation processes (i.e. in enabling individuals and enterprises) rather than in direct ones (i.e. on actual innovation projects).

16 Intermediaries in agriculture (I)
Agricultural literature is rather familiar with the topic of ‘intermediaries’ -> state/public funded bodies aiming at bridging the gap between agronomy-science and farming practice, i.e. ‘conventional’ extension (ToT model) FSR/E participatory turn + turn to sustainability => multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) thinking + in addition to the ecologically, agronomically and socio-economically complex nature of farming systems, sustainable agricultural practices in particular are also complex as well as knowledge intensive and non-prescriptive

17 Intermediaries in agriculture (II)
the ecological knowledge system 1. Effective research on ecologically-sound practices. 2. Social learning. 3. Facilitation (extension). 4. Supportive institutions and networks (including research). 5. Conducive market and policy contexts. (Röling and Jiggins 1998)

18 Intermediaries in SARD
‘Knowledge facilitation’ focuses on enhancing farmers’ capacity to observe, experiment, discuss, evaluate and plan ahead Social learning (SL): the collective action and reflection that occurs among stakeholders as they work towards mutually acceptable solution to a problem pertaining to the management of human and environmental interrelationships SARD concerns a systemic change thus requiring ‘double loop’ learning, i.e. a profound change in assumptions and strategies underlying subsequent actions

19 Facilitators & Brokers (Intro.)
Extension for SARD implies a (social) mechanism for facilitating SL Turn from ‘conventional’ extension (top-down/ ToT/ ‘exploitation’) towards a ‘new’ extension model (sharing and synthesising -> the creation of new knowledge/ ‘exploration’) Roles: facilitators and (lately) brokers

20 Facilitators (I) “to assist (individuals or groups) through the process of implementing a change in practice” “support the work of different types of teams in solving mostly complex problems and in developing decision solutions” “a facilitator tries to create an ideal speech situation and through the appropriate intervention strategies helps the participants to engage in a communicative dialogue that results in consensual decision-making”

21 Facilitators (II) FSR/E = Participatory Action Research, Participatory Rural Appraisal, Participatory Technology Development, etc. the Australian Landcare movement Farmer Field Schools (FFS) Participatory Extension Approach (PEA) - Facilitation for Change (F4C)/ GTZ adaptive (co-)management; CB conservation/SRM; SL; learning for sustainability, sustainable agriculture and agroecology, social/ public/citizen ecology/science; local/indigenous knowledge

22 Brokers ‘Knowledge Management’ literature: the facilitation of the spread of knowledge within and between organisations and thus as a means to stimulate innovation An ‘innovation broker’ is defined as “an organization acting as a member of a network … that is focused neither on the organization nor the implementation of innovations, but on enabling other organizations to innovate” Roles: a) demand articulation, b) network formation and c) innovation process management

23 Obstacles The field of ‘intermediation’ is still theoretically fragmented, not well-grounded and largely practice oriented “there is no such thing as a neutral, detached, value-free facilitator” “strategic” nature of facilitation “a facilitator should have both facilitation skills and appropriate technical background” “facilitation sustainability” “top-down” vs. “bottom-up”

24 Needs (I) Intermediation (facilitation and brokerage) has yet to be thoroughly described, operationally defined, or well-evaluated A need for conceptual clarity (since the current abundance of terminology and the use of the same terms but with different meanings complicate the scene) Explicit attention has thus to be given to theoretical developments; without nuanced a understanding of the concepts, terminology, and controversies, study findings will be difficult to interpret and guidance to practice change may become untenable.

25 Needs (II) Despite inherent difficulties, there is a need to become able to measure the added value of intermediaries -> their contribution will become explicit and thus recognised in the knowledge infrastructure Education/HEIs: the abandonment of mono- disciplinary and reductionist science in favour of trans-disciplinarity ; a change from transmissive learning to transformative learning

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