Coping With Turbulence; Strategies For Agricultural Research Institutes
1. Today, after having focused on Research, Extension and Education (the so-called 'REE-triptych') for over a century, the agricultural knowledge system is in a phase of transition. New roads should be taken to establish agricultural knowledge policies that will think ahead - both in the 'theory' and the 'practice' of knowledge processes. 2. Modeling innovation processes along linear perspectives is increasingly less productive; both knowledge-driven models (such as the classical REE concept) and market-driven perceptions are insufficient to implement a fresh and adequate policy of agricultural innovation. 3. Generating knowledge, developing technologies and skills, and innovating are three fundamentally different activities. Agricultural knowledge policies should be designed to create the most favorable conditions for the production of knowledge, the development of technologies and skills, and innovation - both separately and combined. 4. In order for innovation policies to be successful it should be recognized that knowledge is only one of the essential ingredients of successful innovation and that research is only one way of amassing knowledge. 5. Several skills that are essential for researchers to be adequate partners in innovation processes have been given insufficient attention in research training and education. More specifically they include skills in making research designs, alternately applying 'microscopic' and 'wide-angle' perspectives (mixed scanning), and transcending disciplinary boundaries (transdisciplinarity). 6. In 21st century society Dutch agriculture will have the best prospects if it is decided to develop a multiform type of agriculture. 7. In order to develop sustainable agriculture and to improve the vitality of the countryside while at the same time realizing the required system innovations, government activities should not be confined to a policy of creating essential preconditions and supporting social initiative. Rather, the government should also play the role of an innovative entrepreneur - in close cooperation with private enterprise, social organizations and knowledge institutes. In addition, new strategic alliances between private enterprise, social organizations, knowledge institutes, and government bodies will be necessary to shape system innovations. 8. In order to be able to adopt a strong innovation policy for agribusiness and green space in the years to come part of the Ministry's budget will have to be used to fund innovation themes rather than research programs. This transformation may be effected by setting up a fund of NLG 300 million to develop knowledge and technologies for the purpose of system innovations. The funds should be employed for the benefit of a limited number of keenly selected innovation themes with strategic future relevance. Selected issues should be based on thorough foresight studies involving key actors from private enterprise, social organizations, knowledge institutes and government bodies who are favorably disposed towards innovation.
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