Dynamics of Innovation in Livestock Genetics in Scotland: An Agricultural Innovation Systems Perspective
The application of genetic selection technologies in livestock breeding offers unique opportunities to enhance the productivity, profitability, and competitiveness of the livestock industry in Scotland. However, there is a concern that the uptake of these technologies has been slower in the sheep and beef sectors in comparison to the dairy, pig and poultry sectors. This is rather paradoxical given the fact that Scotland’s research outputs in farm animal genetics are widely perceived to be excellent. A growing body of literature, popularly known as Innovation Systems theories, suggests that technological transformations require a much broader approach that transcends formal research establishments. Accordingly, this paper reports on preliminary work exploring whether and how an agricultural innovation systems perspective could help identify the dynamics of technology uptake in the livestock sectors in Scotland. Although the work has been undertaken in dairy, sheep, and beef sectors, in this paper, we provide the preliminary results obtained from a case study of the sheep sector only. The key objectives of this work were to map the sheep genetics innovation system in Scotland and identify the barriers prevailing within the system with regard to the uptake of genetic selection technologies. Although the sheep innovation system was characterised by the presence of all key domains and actors, it was found to suffer from some crucial weaknesses relating to network integration, technological infrastructure, and policies and institutional frameworks. The implications of these findings are discussed.
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