Volume 114 - Issue 2

Social innovation is often appointed as an essential part of agricultural and rural innovation. Everybody seems to agree that social innovation is important but what exactly is meant by the term remains often unclear. This paper aims at clarifying the meaning and significance of the concept by going back to its root in innovation science and policy. It appoints three main interpretations of social innovation, referring to the social mechanism of innovation, the social responsibility of innovation and the need for innovating society. Studying its application in the field of agriculture and rural development reveals that social innovation is rarely referred to when agriculture as a singular economic activity is concerned, but prominently present in discussions about rural development. Here social innovation may be referred to when identifying society’s need for more sustainable production methods, the necessity for collaboration and social learning, and the scope of change needed for revitalising (rural) society. Often, however, social innovation is presented as a tangle of interdependent processes and beneficial outcomes. Its fuzziness contributes to its discursive power in discussions about agricultural politics and the significance of sustainability, but also hides the valued-loadedness of social innovation. As a result its critical potential becomes neutralised....

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The turn of agrarian sciences and agricultural extension from reductionist and transfer of technology, respectively, towards systemic approaches has transformed agricultural/rural development thinking in the last decades. Nevertheless, the emergence of Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) has to confront a number of gaps among which the expert – lay knowledge gap is of major importance. This paper aims at exploring such a gap as well as obstacles to participatory development from a critical realist point of view. Critical realism (CR) with its realist, differentiated and stratified ontology aims at interpreting the world in order to ultimately bring about transformation. CR allows for new insights on the nature of knowledge as well as on development research and practice. It thus provides useful guidelines concerning the emerging ‘intermediation’ functions within AIS.

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The new challenges facing the European agricultural and rural sectors call for a review of the links between knowledge production and its use to foster innovation, and for a deeper analysis of the potential of the current Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) to react to the evolving context. This paper highlights how the Italian AKIS places itself in the new emerging framework, with a particular emphasis on the incentives guiding the system and the experiences of monitoring and evaluating the national AKIS policy. It shows that important changes are needed to approach the new efforts Europe is adopting to match innovation demand and supply.

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Knowledge and innovation are keywords in a context of resource scarcity and sustainable intensification of agriculture. But in order to fully use the knowledge potential and to transform research results into innovative practices, there is a need for an adequate configuration of the agricultural knowledge and innovation system (AKIS). This configuration should be considered in relation to its own specific context and history. This paper focuses on the particular situation of ornamental plant production in Vlaanderen (Flanders), Belgium. In practice, we see that innovations in this sector are not limited to individual companies, but that new collective structures are put in place. The sector’s geographical clustering within the province of Oost-Vlaanderen is hereby an important facilitating factor. The new AKIS constructions have their own logic and objectives, but illustrate the need for further development of interlinkages between AKIS subsystems. The four examples of networking initiatives focus upon the production practices of ornamental plant production companies (VMS), alignment of research (Technopool Sierteelt), knowledge transfer and interaction between research and primary production (Sietinet) and, finally, co-creation of new varieties between research and the growers (BEST-select and Azanova). The results show that such initiatives can indeed contribute positively to the functioning of the...

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Farmers must continuously adapt production and management systems in order to maintain and enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of their businesses. The development and implementation of innovations require both information and the farmers’ willingness to change daily work routines. Learning and knowledge transfer among farmers, technology developers, experts and university teams ensure the development and application of innovative ideas which are crucial for a sustainable growth in food (and non-food) production. The paper presents results from three transdisciplinary research projects that are part of a wider initiative aimed at establishing a farmer-university network in the north-east of Germany where economic and farming conditions are unfavourable. A team from Eberswalde University facilitates the network. The partners in the network are agricultural farms, agricultural organisations of Berlin-Brandenburg and federal research institutes. The results obtained to date indicate that lifelong learning approaches are promising tools to foster agricultural innovations and thus contribute to the resilience of the agricultural sector. Lifelong learning helps to engage with farmers who are not normally reached. The success of joint learning projects depends among other factors on the relevance and quality of offers, professional management of the network and facilitation of activities. Farmer-university networks function effectively if all...

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There is increasing awareness of the need for new approaches to delivering agricultural extension based on an interactive model of networking systems which integrate knowledge production, adaptation, advice and education. This paper explores the literature surrounding the modelling of farmer decision making, concepts of learning and behaviour change, and ways to stimulate attitude and behaviour change. It shows that facilitated group learning can be a very effective tool for supporting innovation amongst farmers and cites the ADER project, which was implemented in the East of England region between 2001 and 2007, as an example of good practice.

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The use of group processes to encourage innovation and to transfer best practice is relatively novel in the agricultural sector. However, Menter a Busnes, a Welsh economic development company, has been utilising this approach for over a decade. Since successfully tendering in 2011 to deliver the main elements of the Farming Connect programme funded by the Welsh Government under the Rural Development Plan, they have been developing and expanding group principles with a view to engaging a greater number of farmers for a variety of purposes and with a broad range of different groups. This paper outlines how the company initially became involved in group processes through the design and launch of the Agrisgôp programme which utilises Action Learning to develop ideas and resolve issues. Examples of some of the projects undertaken by the groups are given along with experiences relating to group dynamics and facilitation. The broader context of the current Farming Connect programme is described and the variety and nature of group processes currently being utilised for knowledge transfer is discussed. Two studies undertaken in relation to groups are outlined. The first considers whether personality can be used to predict effective facilitators of organisational change and the second...

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The final versions of the European Union’s (EU) support schemes and funding instruments for the 2014-2020 budgeting period have not yet been prepared. What is final, though, is that the ten-year Lisbon Strategy which aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the EU ended in 2010. In addition to three priorities (smart, sustainable and inclusive growth), the recently launched Europe 2020 Strategy has set five headline targets to be reached, one of them being an increased investment in research and development. This is evidently a difficult challenge owing to the limited economic capacity of individual EU Member States. A considerable share of agricultural production activities are performed by small- and medium-sized enterprises and farmers who face difficulty in reaching the level of concentration need to gain market advantage. Consequently, it is imperative to establish a system that can maintain close connections with producers and improve innovation activities. Without such a system, a significant growth of added value cannot be foreseen in Hungarian agriculture. This paper describes a technology development system that incorporates three elements (measurement of inputs in space and time, market-focused technology development and a self-teaching information system for farmers) and that could be used in rural development, primarily in...

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Globalisation needs to be perceived by wine small and medium enterprises (SMEs) located in wine regions characterised by a terroir model as a challenge and an opportunity to innovate. The aim of this paper is to present a business strategy that can be adopted by wine SMEs located in regions with high production costs and where tradition and innovation are relevant factors to be introduced in the decision process. To achieve this goal, the case of five small wine producers (Douro Boys), located in the Portuguese conservative Douro Demarcated Region (DDR), that are adopting an informal horizontal network is presented. The conducted analysis allows us to conclude that Douro Boys is a very simple and informal structure of prospectors, with a high culture of innovation, searching for niches in international wine markets.

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Journal Metrics

Scimago Journal & Country Rank





  • Scopus SJR (2023): 0.29
  • Scopus CiteScore (2022): 2.0
  • WoS Journal Impact Factor (2023): 0.9
  • WoS Journal Citation Indicator (2023): 0.33
  • ISSN (electronic): 2063-0476
  • ISSN-L 1418-2106



Publisher Name: Institute of Agricultural Economics Nonprofit Kft. (AKI)

Publisher Headquarters: Zsil utca 3-5, 1093-Budapest, Hungary

Name of Responsible Person for Publishing:        Dr. Pal Goda

Name of Responsible Person for Editing:             Dr. Attila Jambor

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The publication cost of the journal is supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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