The adoption problem; or why we still understand so little about technological change in African agriculture
In this article (PDF) in Outlook on Agriculture the authors argue that a re-conceptualization of adoption of technology is needed. The notion of adoption is central to efforts to measure technological change in African agriculture, and plays an important role in the evaluation of returns on investment in agricultural research and technology development. However, the adoption concept, as it is commonly used in both the literature and development research practice, is seriously flawed and leads to inaccurate and misleading conclusions. The authors argue that the concept of adoption currently used is too linear in both spatial and temporal terms, too binary, too much focused on individual decisions, and blind to many important aspects of technological change. The authors outline a design specification for a replacement concept that would provide a better basis for robust empirical research on the economic, social and environmental impacts of investment in agricultural technology development and promotion. They propose that this new concept can contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of the impacts of technology development interventions. The new concept they propose would include sociologically and anthropologically informed conceptions of technology and technological change; encompass change processes that are emergent, iterative and incremental; include partial or adaptive change processes; include the diversity of technologies of diverse complexity; encompass the multiple levels and scales at which technology operates.