Focal Area 2
Facilitating transformation of agricultural research towards relevant and effective innovation systems with impact
This focal area deals with change processes within agricultural research organisations / systems at local, national, regional and international levels. In the last decade, research systems have come under high pressure to move from rather linear and reductionist component research on commodities towards impact-oriented, more integrated, inter / trans-disciplinary and systems-based research approaches. Development impact has become the major driver to re-orient and restructure research organisations and systems.
The implications of this new orientation are fundamental: the entire agricultural research systemfrom local to global level was based on a linear model of innovation, where research develops technologies and extension services disseminate them. The new models see innovation as socio-technical processes where multiple sources of innovation are available and need to interact at multiple levels and scales. Consequently the role of researchers changes drastically as they are part of broader innovation systems together with other actors and they have responsibility for impact. This change poses hard challenges to the research systems in terms of competences of researchers / scientists, the structures and systems of research organisations including funding of research and related institutional arrangements.
Why we focus on this area
PICOTEAM regards the role of agricultural research as central for rural / agricultural development and thus puts great emphasis on research and development services for rural empowerment and poverty alleviation. We have been centrally involved in transformation of research systems and organisations in Africa over the last decade with the aim to make research organisations more adaptive in responding effectively to the rural development challenges and to demands for impact.
How we engage in transformation of research systems
PICOTEAM’s involvement in this focal area develops around 6 intertwined elements of research transformation in which we have specialised with long-standing experience and a range of methodologies and approaches we have developed over time. These are:
1. NARS Review and Reform Processes.
2. Institutional arrangements for integrated research / innovation systems (from local to international)
3. Change management within research and development organisations
4. Approaches and methods for effective and integrated research for development (IAR4D
5. Competence for integrated research for development and action research
6. Knowledge management for innovation
Transformation of research systems has been a major focal area over more than 15 years for PICOTEAM members. We have been involved in change processes in 8 NARS in Africa, 1 in Latin America, 3 Sub-regional organisations in Africa, The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) and more than 10 of the international CGIAR centres as well Universities and NGO/CBOs across the range. We have been involved in ‘making change happen’, but alongside with it, we have carried out ‘research on change’ to substantiate our experiences and findings. Presently we are supervising a range of PhD students who study changes, besides our own research.
Our successes have been propelling the demand for our services in that area. Besides the impacts on the ground, one of the strongest outcomes across the board have been the changes in the mindset of the actors, the conceptual clarity of all involved parties and the implementation capacity which emerged from the processes we were engaged
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