Science of scaling: Connecting the pathways of agricultural research and development for improved food, income and nutrition security
This special issue of Agricultural Systems takes stock of how the world of agricultural research for development (AR4D) is engaging with scaling in theory and practice in the context of increased pressure to demonstrate impact. The 10 publications cut agross three categories: 1) Understanding the scaling trajectory retrospectively form a longer term, systems perspective. The category includes two articles, showing how scaling of innovation cuts across different institutional, leadership, technological and organizational dimensions, and applying a systems perspective to draw programmatic lessons from a large scale investment in scaling. 2) Understanding scaling of innovation retrospectively as part of shorter term AR4D interventions. The five articles in the category focus on the scaling approaches employed by innovation platforms, on how multi-level innovation platforms served as the principle approach to scaling sustainable intensification, on approaching scaling from the viewpoint of ensuring access to material and social components of an innovation package, on research-development partnerships and partnership drivers and dynamics for scaling complex innovations, and on opportunities and challenges for scaling agricultural mechanization services. 3) Conceptual or methodological approaches aimed at guiding scaling prospectively. One paper builds a strong case for a systems approach to scaling, another operationalises complex systems concepts for assessing the scaling readiness of innovations, while the last paper demonstrates how the use of The Rural Household Multi-Indicator Survey (RHoMIS) for rapid characterization of rural households can support scaling partners to move beyond one-size-fits-all approaches to scaling of innovation. The editorial proposes three research domains for the Science of Scaling: ‘Understand the big picture of scaling innovation’; ‘Develop instruments that nurture efficient and responsible scaling’; and ‘Create a conducive environment for scaling innovation’.