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The Economics of Innovation and Technical Change in Agriculture

In: Handbook of the Economics of Innovation

Author

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  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Ruttan, Vernon W.

Abstract

Innovation in agriculture differs from innovation elsewhere in the economy in several important ways. In this chapter we highlight differences arising from (a) the atomistic nature of agricultural production, (b) the spatial specificity of agricultural technologies and the implications for spatial spillovers and the demand for adaptive research, and (c) the role of coevolving pests and diseases and changing weather and climate giving rise to demands for maintenance research, and other innovations that reduce the susceptibility of agricultural production to these uncontrolled factors. These features of agriculture mean that the nature and extent of market failures in the provision of agricultural research and innovation differ from their counterparts in other parts of the economy. Consequently, different government policies are implied, including different types of intellectual property protection and different roles of the government in funding and performing research. Informal innovation and technical discovery processes characterized agriculture from its beginnings some 10,000 years ago, providing a foundation for the organized science and innovation activities that have become increasingly important over the past century or two. This chapter reviews innovation and technical change in agriculture in this more-recent period, paying attention to research institutions, investments, and intellectual property. Special attention is given to issues of R&D attribution, the nature and length of the lags between research spending and its impacts on productivity, and various dimensions of innovation outcomes, including rates of return to agricultural research and the distribution of benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 2010. "The Economics of Innovation and Technical Change in Agriculture," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 939-984, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:haechp:v2_939
    DOI: 10.1016/S0169-7218(10)02006-X
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    Cited by:

    1. Jules-Daniel Wurlod & Derek Eaton, 2015. "Chasing After the Frontier in Agricultural Productivity," FOODSECURE Working papers 36, LEI Wageningen UR.
    2. Potts, Jason & Kastelle, Tim, 2017. "Economics of innovation in Australian agricultural economics and policy," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 96-104.
    3. Morrison, Andrea & Rabellotti, Roberta, 2017. "Gradual catch up and enduring leadership in the global wine industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 417-430.
    4. Cavallo, Eugenio & Ferrari, Ester & Bollani, Luigi & Coccia, Mario, 2014. "Attitudes and behaviour of adopters of technological innovations in agricultural tractors: A case study in Italian agricultural system," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 44-54.
    5. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G., 2014. "Agricultural R&D, Food Prices, Poverty and Malnutrition Redux," Staff Papers 162413, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    6. Julian M. Alston & William J. Martin & Philip G. Pardey, 2014. "Influences of Agricultural Technology on the Size and Importance of Food Price Variability," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Food Price Volatility, pages 13-54, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agriculture; factor bias; innovation; intellectual property; market failures; productivity; research lags; spillovers;

    JEL classification:

    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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