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An analysis of power dynamics within innovation platforms for natural resource management


  • Beth Cullen
  • Josephine Tucker
  • Katherine Snyder
  • Zelalem Lema
  • Alan Duncan


Innovation systems thinking is increasingly influencing approaches to sustainable agricultural development in developing world contexts. This represents a shift away from technology transfer towards recognition that agricultural change entails complex interactions among multiple actors and a range of technical, social and institutional factors. One option for practically applying innovation systems thinking involves the establishment of innovation platforms (IPs). Such platforms are designed to bring together a variety of different stakeholders to exchange knowledge and resources and take action to solve common problems. Yet relatively little is known about how IPs operate in practice, particularly how power dynamics influence platform processes. This paper focuses on a research-for-development project in the Ethiopian highlands which established three IPs for improved natural resource management. The 'power cube' is used to retrospectively analyse the spaces, forms and levels of power within these platforms and the impact on platform processes and resulting interventions. The overall aim is to highlight the importance of power issues in order to better assess the strengths and limitations of IPs as a model for inclusive innovation. Findings suggest that while IPs may achieve some short-term success in creating spaces for wider participation in decision-making processes, they may be significantly influenced by forms of power which may not always be visible or easily challenged.

Suggested Citation

  • Beth Cullen & Josephine Tucker & Katherine Snyder & Zelalem Lema & Alan Duncan, 2014. "An analysis of power dynamics within innovation platforms for natural resource management," Innovation and Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 259-275, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:riadxx:v:4:y:2014:i:2:p:259-275
    DOI: 10.1080/2157930X.2014.921274

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    Cited by:

    1. Swaans, Kees & Cullen, Beth & van Rooyen, André & Adekunle, Adewale & Ngwenya, Hlami & Lema, Zelalem & Nederlof, Suzanne, 2016. "Dealing with critical challenges in African innovation platforms: Lessons for facilitation," IFPRI book chapters, in: Devaux, André & Torero, Maximo & Donovan, Jason & Horton, Douglas E. (ed.), Innovation for inclusive value-chain development: Successes and challenges, chapter 10, pages 303-328, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Pigford, Ashlee-Ann E. & Hickey, Gordon M. & Klerkx, Laurens, 2018. "Beyond agricultural innovation systems? Exploring an agricultural innovation ecosystems approach for niche design and development in sustainability transitions," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 116-121.
    3. Sanya, L. N. & Lusembo, P. & Scow, K. M. & Magala, D. B. & Allen, M. & Gafabusa, R. N. & Nakyagaba, W. N. & Mugisa, I. & Mwebe, S. & Salomon, A. & Mayanja, S., 2018. "The participatory market chain approach: Stimulating innovations along the indigenous African leafy vegetables market chain," African Journal of Rural Development (AFJRD), AFrican Journal of Rural Development (AFJRD), vol. 3(1), March.
    4. Maru, Yiheyis & Sparrow, Ashley & Stirzaker, Richard & Davies, Jocelyn, 2018. "Integrated agricultural research for development (IAR4D) from a theory of change perspective," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 310-320.
    5. Turyahikayo, W. & Matsiko, F.B. & Okiror, J.J. & Obaa, B.B. & Hanf, J.H., 2018. "The Perceived Role Of Innovation Platforms In Addressing The Agricultural Value Chain Collective Problems: An Empirical Application Of Transaction Cost Theory," International Journal of Agricultural Research, Innovation and Technology (IJARIT), IJARIT Research Foundation, vol. 8(2), December.
    6. Lema, Zelalem & Lobry de Bruyn, Lisa A. & Marshall, Graham R. & Roschinsky, Romana & Duncan, Alan J., 2021. "Multilevel innovation platforms for development of smallholder livestock systems: How effective are they?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    7. Plantinga, Paul & Adams, Rachel Margaret, 2019. "Rethinking open government as innovation for inclusive development: Open access, data and ICT in South Africa," SocArXiv hmt8v, Center for Open Science.
    8. Cook, Brian R. & Satizábal, Paula & Curnow, Jayne, 2021. "Humanising agricultural extension: A review," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    9. Dieuwke Lamers & Marc Schut & Laurens Klerkx & Piet van Asten, 2017. "Compositional dynamics of multilevel innovation platforms in agricultural research for development," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(6), pages 739-752.
    10. van Ewijk, Edith & Ros-Tonen, Mirjam A.F., 2021. "The fruits of knowledge co-creation in agriculture and food-related multi-stakeholder platforms in sub-Saharan Africa – A systematic literature review," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 186(C).
    11. Michael D. van der Merwe & Sara S. Grobbelaar & Cornelius S. L. Schutte & Konrad H. von Leipzig, 2018. "Toward an Enterprise Growth Framework for Entering the Base of the Pyramid Market: A Systematic Review," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 15(04), pages 1-34, August.
    12. Magala, D. B & Mangheni, M. N & Miiro, R, 2018. "Formation of effective multi-stakeholder Platforms: Lessons from coffee innovation platforms in Uganda," African Journal of Rural Development (AFJRD), AFrican Journal of Rural Development (AFJRD), vol. 3(1), March.
    13. Kebebe, E. & Duncan, AJ & Klerkx, L. & de Boer, I.J.M. & Oosting, S.J., 2015. "Understanding socio-economic and policy constraints to dairy development in Ethiopia: A coupled functional-structural innovation systems analysis," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 69-78.
    14. Dolinska, Aleksandra, 2017. "Bringing farmers into the game. Strengthening farmers' role in the innovation process through a simulation game, a case from Tunisia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 129-139.
    15. Catherine Kilelu & Laurens Klerkx & Amos Omore & Isabelle Baltenweck & Cees Leeuwis & Julius Githinji, 2017. "Value Chain Upgrading and the Inclusion of Smallholders in Markets: Reflections on Contributions of Multi-Stakeholder Processes in Dairy Development in Tanzania," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 29(5), pages 1102-1121, November.

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