Social network analysis of multi-stakeholder platforms in agricultural research for development: Opportunities and constraints for innovation and scaling
This article in PLOS ONE, analyses the role of multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) for agricultural innovation and scaling. Multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) are seen as a promising vehicle to achieve agricultural development impacts. By increasing collaboration, exchange of knowledge and influence mediation among farmers, researchers and other stakeholders, MSPs supposedly enhance their ‘capacity to innovate’ and contribute to the ‘scaling of innovations’. The objective of this paper is to explore the capacity to innovate and scaling potential of three MSPs in Burundi, Rwanda and the South Kivu province located in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In order to do this, we apply Social Network Analysis and Exponential Random Graph Modelling (ERGM) to investigate the structural properties of the collaborative, knowledge exchange and influence networks of these MSPs and compared them against value propositions derived from the innovation network literature. Results demonstrate a number of mismatches between collaboration, knowledge exchange and influence networks for effective innovation and scaling processes in all three countries: NGOs and private sector are respectively over- and under-represented in the MSP networks. Linkages between local and higher levels are weak, and influential organisations (e.g., high-level government actors) are often not part of the MSP or are not actively linked to by other organisations. Organisations with a central position in the knowledge network are more sought out for collaboration. The scaling of innovations is primarily between the same type of organisations across different administrative levels, but not between different types of organisations. The results illustrate the potential of Social Network Analysis and ERGMs to identify the strengths and limitations of MSPs in terms of achieving development impacts.