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Public-private partnerships in agricultural research: an analysis of challenges facing industry and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research


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  • Spielman, David J.
  • von Grebmer, Klaus


"Public-private partnerships offer potentially important opportunities for pro-poor agricultural research in developing countries. Yet in the international agricultural research community-and with regard to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) itself-we see few examples of successful public-private partnerships, and fewer examples where such collaborations have contributed to food security, poverty reduction and economic growth. This study assesses the opportunities for, and challenges to, creating and sustaining public-private partnerships between the international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR and leading multinational, research-based agribusiness companies. The study hypothesizes that the willingness and ability of public agencies and private firms to enter into partnerships are constrained by fundamentally different incentive structures; by insufficient minimization of the costs and risks of collaboration; by an inability to overcome mutually negative perceptions; by limited use of creative organizational mechanisms that reduce competition over key assets and resources; and by insufficient access to information on successful partnership models. The study methodology is based on interviews and discussions with key stakeholders and a wide review of the literature on public-private partnership. Tentative findings suggest that while incentives and perceptions do differ between sectors, sufficient common space exists or can be created through incentive structuring to facilitate greater partnership. However, both public- and private-sector partners inadequately account for and minimize the costs and risks of partnership. Similarly, partners discount the need for brokers and third-party actors to manage research collaborations and reduce competition between sectors. Finally, partners are operating without sufficient information on existing partnership experiences, lessons, and models, potentially contributing to a persistent or widening gap between sectors.

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series EPTD discussion papers with number 113.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:113

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Keywords: intellectual property; Agricultural biotechnology; Research and Development; Property rights; Multinational firms; Collaborative research; Public-private partnership;

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  1. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-61, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Dentoni, Domenico & English, Francis, 2012. "Dealing with Cultural Differences in Public-Private R&D Projects: The Experience of the Australian Seafood Sector," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), vol. 15(A).
  2. Hall, Andy, 2006. "Public private sector partnerships in an agricultural system of innovation: concepts and challenges," MERIT Working Papers 002, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  3. Atanassov, Atanas & Bahieldin, Ahmed & Brink, Johan & Burachik, Moises & Cohen, Joel I. & Dhawan, Vibha & Ebora, Reynaldo V. & Falck-Zepeda, José & Herrera-Estrella, Luis & Komen, John & Chon Low, Fe, 2004. "To reach the poor: results from the ISNAR-IFPRI Next Harvest study on genetically modified crops, public research, and policy implications," EPTD discussion papers 116, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Joel Cohen & John Komen & José Falck Zepeda, 2004. "National Agricultural Biotechnology Research Capacity in Developing Countries," Working Papers 04-14, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
  5. Valentina Cristiana MATERIA & Roberto ESPOSTI, 2010. "Modelling Agricultural Public R&D Cofinancing Within A Principal-Agent Framework. The case of an Italian region," Working Papers 347, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  6. Lois Muraguri, 2010. "Unplugged!: An analysis of agricultural biotechnology PPPs in Kenya," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(3), pages 289-307.
  7. Joanna Chataway, 2005. "Introduction: is it possible to create pro-poor agriculture-related biotechnology?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(5), pages 597-610.
  8. Gramzow, Andreas, 2009. "Rural development as provision of local public goods: Theory and evidence from Poland," Studies on the Agricultural and Food Sector in Central and Eastern Europe, Leib­niz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), volume 51, number 92313.
  9. Hall, Andy & Sulaiman, Rasheed & Bezkorowajnyj, Peter, 2008. "Reframing technical change: Livestock Fodder Scarcity Revisited as Innovation Capacity Scarcity: Part 2. A Framework for Analysis," MERIT Working Papers 003, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  10. Christian Webersik & Clarice Wilson, 2009. "Achieving environmental sustainability and growth in Africa: the role of science, technology and innovation," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(6), pages 400-413.
  11. Gerpacio, Roberta V. & Pingali, Prabhu L., 2007. "Tropical and Subtropical Maize in Asia: Production Systems, Constraints, and Research Priorities," Maize Production Systems Papers 56107, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
  12. Maud Roucan-Kane & Allan Gray, 2009. "The U.S. Seed Industustustry: An Exploration of Statistics Highlighting the Economic Cctivity of the U.S. Row Crop Seed Industry," Working Papers 09-08, Purdue University, College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics.
  13. Ponzoni, R.W. & Acosta, B.O. & Ponniah, A.G. (eds.), 2006. "Development of aquatic animal genetic improvement and dissemination programs : current status and action plans," Working Papers, The WorldFish Center, number 36880.
  14. Mabiso, Athur & van Rheenen, Teunis & Ferguson, Jenna, 2013. "Organizational partnerships for food Policy research impact: A review of what works:," IFPRI discussion papers 1305, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  15. World Bank, 2005. "Agriculture and Achieving the Millennium Development Goals," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8455, The World Bank.
  16. Khan, Shahbaz & Mushtaq, Shahbaz, 2009. "Regional partnerships to assist public-private investments in irrigation systems," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 839-846, May.
  17. Singh, Harbir & Mathur, Prasoon & Pal, Suresh, 2008. "Indian Seed System Development: Policy and Institutional Options," Agricultural Economics Research Review, Agricultural Economics Research Association (India), vol. 21(1), June.
  18. Hartwich, Frank & Gottret, Maria Veronica & Babu, Suresh Chandra & Tola, Jaime, 2007. "Building public–private partnerships for agricultural innovation in Latin America: Lessons from capacity strengthening," IFPRI discussion papers 699, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  19. Roy, Sonali & Christy, Ralph D., 2005. "Agricultural Biotechnology Risks and Economic Development: A Call for a Public-Private Partnerships to Stimulate Investments into African Biotechnology Industries," Staff Papers 121113, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  20. Gramzow, Andreas & Petrick, Martin, 2007. "Stimulating Cooperation Among Farmers In A Post-Socialist Economy: Lessons From A Public-Private Marketing Partnership In Poland," 47th Annual Conference, Weihenstephan, Germany, September 26-28, 2007 7580, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
  21. Rich, Karl M. & Narrod, Clare A., 2010. "The role of public–private partnerships in promoting smallholder access to livestock markets in developing countries," IFPRI discussion papers 1001, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


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