External influences on agro-enterprise innovation platforms in Benin, Ghana and Mali: Options for effective responses
This article (PDF) in the journal Cahiers Agricultures discusses external influences on innovation platforms (IPs) and the options for effective responses. The platforms examined in this paper were conceived as vehicles for facilitating institutional change in support of innovation that benefits smallholders, in selected agro-enterprise domains in Benin, Ghana and Mali. They were designed and implemented in a manner that enabled experimentation with processes of change in the selected domains. A Research Associate in each case facilitated the work of the IPs and applied Theory-Guided Process Tracing (TGPT) methodology to document the innovation processes pursued by platform members. The main influences were found to emanate from global, sub-regional and national levels. The authors identified five main types of external influences on the work of the IPs: political, economic, socio-cultural, technological and environmental. The IPs’ responses were diverse but generally included reconstitution of the membership, lobbying, capacity-building among smallholders, and empowerment of smallholders by organizing provision of new knowledge, skills or financial resources. IPs must necessarily assess the options for responses – politically, economically, socio-culturally, technologically and environmentally to address institutional constraints. Whilst some options can be very effective in meeting the respective constraints, others may be limited in providing solutions. The authors concludes that external influences are important in determining the direction of socio-technical and institutional innovation.