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Beyond knowledge brokerage: An exploratory study of innovation intermediaries in an evolving smallholder agricultural system in Kenya

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  • Kilelu, Catherine W.

    (RIU, Communication and Innovation Studies Group, Wageningen University)

  • Klerkx, Laurens

    (Communication and Innovation Studies Group, Wageningen University)

  • Leeuwis, Cees

    (Communication and Innovation Studies Group, Wageningen University)

  • Hall, Andy

    (RIU, LINK, Open University, and UNU-MERIT)

Abstract

The recognition that innovation occurs in networks of heterogeneous actors and requires broad systemic support beyond knowledge brokering has resulted in a changing landscape of the intermediary domain in an increasingly market-driven agricultural sector in developing countries. This paper presents findings of an explorative case study that looked at 22 organisations identified as fulfilling an intermediary role in the Kenyan agricultural sector. The results show that these organisations fulfill functions that are not limited to distribution of knowledge and putting it into use. The functions also include fostering integration and interaction among the diverse actors engaged in innovation networks and working on technological, organisational and institutional innovation. Further, the study identified various organisational arrangements of innovation intermediaries with some organisations fulfilling a specialised innovation brokering role, even as other intermediaries take on brokering as a side activity, while still substantively contributing to the innovation process. Based on these findings we identify a typology of 4 innovation intermediation arrangements, including technology brokers, systemic brokers, enterprise development support and input access support. The results indicate that innovation brokering is a pervasive task in supporting innovation and will require policy support to embed it in innovation support arrangements. The paper is not normative about these arrangements.

Suggested Citation

  • Kilelu, Catherine W. & Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees & Hall, Andy, 2011. "Beyond knowledge brokerage: An exploratory study of innovation intermediaries in an evolving smallholder agricultural system in Kenya," MERIT Working Papers 2011-022, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2011022
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    Cited by:

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    2. Anders Hansson & Simon Haikola & Mathias Fridahl & Pius Yanda & Edmund Mabhuye & Noah Pauline, 2021. "Biochar as multi-purpose sustainable technology: experiences from projects in Tanzania," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 5182-5214, April.
    3. Shambu Prasad Chebrolu & Deborah Dutta, 2021. "Managing Sustainable Transitions: Institutional Innovations from India," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(11), pages 1-16, May.
    4. Kilelu, Catherine W. & Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees, 2016. "Unraveling the role of innovation platforms in supporting coevolution of innovation: Contributions and tensions in a smallholder dairy-development program," IFPRI book chapters, in: Devaux, André & Torero, Maximo & Donovan, Jason & Horton, Douglas E. (ed.), Innovation for inclusive value-chain development: Successes and challenges, chapter 9, pages 269-302, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. 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).
    6. Kilelu, Catherine W. & Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees, 2013. "Unravelling the role of innovation platforms in supporting co-evolution of innovation: Contributions and tensions in a smallholder dairy development programme," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 65-77.
    7. Skaalsveen, Kamilla & Ingram, Julie & Urquhart, Julie, 2020. "The role of farmers' social networks in the implementation of no-till farming practices," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    8. Alex Koutsouris, 2012. "Exploring the emerging facilitation and brokerage roles for agricultural extension education," Working Papers 2012-4, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
    9. Berthet, Elsa T. & Hickey, Gordon M., 2018. "Organizing collective innovation in support of sustainable agro-ecosystems: The role of network management," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 44-54.
    10. Jenson, Ian & Doyle, Richard & Miles, Morgan P., 2020. "An entrepreneurial marketing process perspective of the role of intermediaries in producing innovation outcomes," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 291-299.
    11. Adanella Rossi, 2020. "From Co-Learning to Shared Commitment to Agroecology. Some Insights from Initiatives Aimed at Reintroducing Agrobiodiversity," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(18), pages 1-25, September.
    12. Yang, Huan & Klerkx, Laurens & Leeuwis, Cees, 2014. "Functions and limitations of farmer cooperatives as innovation intermediaries: Findings from China," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 115-125.
    13. Foster, Christopher, 2014. "Does quality matter for innovations in low income markets? The case of the Kenyan mobile phone sector," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 119-129.
    14. Hall, Andy, 2011. "Putting agricultural research into use: Lessons from contested visions of innovation," MERIT Working Papers 2011-076, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    15. Figueiredo, Paulo N. & Piana, Janaina, 2016. "When “one thing (almost) leads to another”: A micro-level exploration of learning linkages in Brazil's mining industry," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 405-414.
    16. Desamparados Blazquez & Josep Domenech & Jose-Maria Garcia-Alvarez-Coque, 2018. "Assessing Technology Platforms for Sustainability with Web Data Mining Techniques," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(12), pages 1-15, November.
    17. Federica Rossi & Ana Colovic & Annalisa Caloffi & Margherita Russo, 2021. "Public innovation intermediaries and digital co-creation," Working Papers 49, Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research, revised Feb 2021.
    18. Colleen M. Eidt & Laxmi P. Pant & Gordon M. Hickey, 2020. "Platform, Participation, and Power: How Dominant and Minority Stakeholders Shape Agricultural Innovation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(2), pages 1-21, January.
    19. Anders Hansson & Simon Haikola & Mathias Fridahl & Pius Yanda & Edmund Mabhuye & Noah Pauline, 0. "Biochar as multi-purpose sustainable technology: experiences from projects in Tanzania," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-33.
    20. Hudson, Heather E. & Leclair, Mark & Pelletier, Bernard & Sullivan, Bartholomew, 2017. "Using radio and interactive ICTs to improve food security among smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 670-684.
    21. Ton, Giel & Klerkx, Laurens & de Grip, Karin & Rau, Marie-Luise, 2015. "Innovation grants to smallholder farmers: Revisiting the key assumptions in the impact pathways," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 9-23.
    22. Bernard Pelletier & Gordon M. Hickey & Kimberly L. Bothi & Andrew Mude, 2016. "Linking rural livelihood resilience and food security: an international challenge," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(3), pages 469-476, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Smallholder agriculture; innovation intermediaries; agriculture innovation; knowledge brokers; Kenya;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • N57 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q13 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services

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