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Design process outputs as boundary objects in agricultural innovation projects: Functions and limitations


  • Klerkx, Laurens
  • van Bommel, Severine
  • Bos, Bram
  • Holster, Henri
  • Zwartkruis, Joyce V.
  • Aarts, Noelle


The purpose of this article is to investigate the functions of design process outputs (such as design briefs, scale models, visualizations, animations) as boundary objects in the implementation of novel agricultural production system concepts. The case study analysis of the innovation process that led to the establishment of the Rondeel poultry husbandry system reveals that the interpretative flexibility of design process outputs as boundary objects helps in creating mutual understanding among diverse actors involved in the implementation of a novel agricultural production system concept, and in mobilizing support for it. In some cases, boundary objects allow for interpretative flexibility but remain stable in shape; sometimes, however, the boundary objects themselves change as a result of the redesign process they induce. Furthermore, implementers of novel systems may prefer to maintain a rigid interpretation of the boundary object, using such interpretative rigidity of the boundary object as both an inclusion and exclusion mechanism for actors and options in the innovation process. The results confirm that a design process output such as a scale model can be purposefully created to serve as a boundary object and support novel agricultural system concept implementation. However, the effectiveness of a boundary object cannot be predicted and fully planned ex-ante.

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  • Klerkx, Laurens & van Bommel, Severine & Bos, Bram & Holster, Henri & Zwartkruis, Joyce V. & Aarts, Noelle, 2012. "Design process outputs as boundary objects in agricultural innovation projects: Functions and limitations," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 39-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:113:y:2012:i:c:p:39-49 DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.07.006

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    Cited by:

    1. Garb, Yaakov & Friedlander, Lonia, 2014. "From transfer to translation: Using systemic understandings of technology to understand drip irrigation uptake," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 13-24.
    2. Vänninen, Irene & Pereira-Querol, Marco & Engeström, Yrjö, 2015. "Generating transformative agency among horticultural producers: An activity-theoretical approach to transforming Integrated Pest Management," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 38-49.
    3. Pant, Laxmi Prasad, 2016. "Paradox of mainstreaming agroecology for regional and rural food security in developing countries," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 305-316.
    4. Martin, G., 2015. "A conceptual framework to support adaptation of farming systems – Development and application with Forage Rummy," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 52-61.
    5. repec:eee:agisys:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:129-139 is not listed on IDEAS


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