Gender and agricultural innovation in Oromia region, Ethiopia: From innovator to tempered radical
This article (PDF) in the Gender, Technology and Development journal examined whether the concept of tempered radicals, developed originally to interrogate change processes in organizations, has validity in rural agricultural settings. Tempered radicals are change agents who experience the dominant culture as a violation of the integrity and authenticity of their personal values and beliefs. They seek to move forward whilst challenging the status quo. Findings demonstrate that women and men innovators actively interrogate and contest gender norms and extension narratives. Whilst both women and men innovators face considerable challenges, women, in particular, are precariously located ‘outsiders within,’ negotiating carefully between norm and sanction. So empered radicals interpretative lens indeed allows us to recognize and interpret the strategies used by innovators in a novel way. New insights have emerged that are unique to the literature on agricultural innovators. However, whilst the strategies deployed by the eight innovators discussed here conform to the tempered radicals framework, translating our insights into the development of strategies to identify and support grassroots innovators may be challenging. One implication of our study is that strategies to support innovators, and women innovators, in particular, must be strongly context-specific and they must also be gender-sensitive. Findings further show that single women, existing on the margins of their society, are more likely to be innovators because they have more decision-making power in relation to their own resources than women within male-headed households. There are two implications. First, there is clear scope for developing strategies to support womenheaded households. Second, methodologies aiming to strengthen intra-household bargaining processes could be very useful.