Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Triggering regime change: A comparative analysis of the performance of innovation platforms that attempted to change the institutional context for nine agricultural domains in West Africa
    Hounkonnou, Dominique ; Brouwers, Jan ; Huis, Arnold Van; Jiggins, Janice ; Kossou, Dansou ; Röling, N.G. ; Sakyi-dawson, Owuraku ; Traoré, Mamoudou - \ 2018
    Agricultural Systems 165 (2018). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 296 - 309.
    The article synthesises the experiences of innovation platforms (IPs) that engaged in open-ended experimental action to improve the institutional context for smallholder farm development in West Africa. The IPs sought change at the level of the institutional regime covering an entire agricultural domain (such as cocoa, cotton, oil palm or water management). Their purpose was therefore not to ‘roll out’ farm-level technologies across rural communities. The IPs's outcomes were documented and analysed throughout by means of theory-based process tracing in each of seven of the nine domains in which regime change was attempted. The evidence shows that by means of exploratory scoping and diagnosis, socio-technical and institutional experimentation, and guided facilitation IPs can remove, by-pass, or modify domain-specific institutional constraints and/or create new institutional conditions that allow smallholders to capture opportunity. The article describes the 5-year, €4.5 million research programme in Benin, Ghana and Mali, covering theory, design, methods and results. It is the sequel to Hounkonnou et al. in AGSY 108 (2012): 74–83.
    The governance of farming and natural resource management
    Jiggins, J.L.S. ; Blackmore, Chris ; Ison, Ray ; Röling, N.G. - \ 2016
    Outlook on Agriculture 45 (2016)4. - ISSN 0030-7270 - p. 217 - 219.
    Co-learning - Farming futures - Institutional transformations

    Business as usual is impeding implementation of systemic change in the governance of the natural resources on which all forms of farming depend and the transformation of agricultural techniques, practices, and enterprises toward multifunctional sustainability. The contributions to the governance of farming and natural resource management explore how business as usual challenged and transformed by means of institutional change; cogeneration of knowledge and multi-actor learning; and new forms of governance. Studies of water resources management in agrarian landscapes in Denmark and other European countries, an on-line platform for co-learning among Australian agricultural researchers, and of Maöri dairy enterprises in New Zealand braid together these issues to demonstrate the barriers to and opportunities for transformative change. These papers are fronted by an opinion piece on institutions in agriculture and rounded off by an opinion piece on selected sociotechnical and institutional innovations that might offer pathways toward more sustainable agricultures and natural resource management.

    Innovation platforms and projects to support smallholder development - Experiences from Sub-Saharan Africa
    Jiggins, J.L.S. ; Hounkonnou, Dominique ; Sakyi-Dawson, Owuraku ; Kossou, Dansou ; Traoré, Mamoudou ; Röling, N.G. ; Huis, Arnold van - \ 2016
    Cahiers Agricultures 25 (2016)6. - ISSN 1777-5949
    Agro-enterprises - Innovation platforms - Institutional change

    Innovation as a policy goal, normative practice, and a conceptual framing of purposeful human activity, has received increasing attention. The question of what kinds of purposeful innovation might benefit smallholders in developing countries has been raised. This issue presents and analyses the work of Innovation Platforms (IPs) established by the COS-SIS (Convergence of Sciences-Strengthening Innovation Systems) programme in nine agro-enterprise domains in West Africa, drawing on Theory Guided Process Inquiry data recorded through 2011-end 2013. Six papers synthesise individual IP experiences, complemented by a cross-case analysis of external influences on the IPs and their responses, a reflection on how well the IPs in Mali dealt with local conflicts, and an analysis of how the work of the IPs in Ghana led to changes in university curricula and in the researching practices of three leading agricultural institutes. An analysis of thirteen case studies from Kenya, Benin, and South Africa supported by the JOLISAA (Joint learning in and about Innovation Systems in African Agriculture) programme, adds further insights. Five general lessons are drawn, expressed as propositions that can be further tested against others' experiences: (i) IPs can bring about significant socio-technical and institutional changes at a range of levels, and in a wide variety of agro-enterprise domains and contexts; (ii) the IPs are not isolated from nor independent of the networks of influence in which they are embedded; thus they cannot be treated as the sole causal agents of the changes accomplished; (iii) research that tracks the IPs' work and performance provides evidence that enables the members to learn from experience and adjust activities in the light of effects; (iv) there is no blueprint for what an IP is nor a recipe for the processes by which such changes are brought about; the form, activities, and changes co-evolve with whatever is happening in the wider context; (v) field-based diagnosis of opportunity, evidence-based information-sharing and experimental exploration of pathways of change establish the legitimacy and influence of IPs.

    Innovation systems : Towards effective strategies in support of smallholder farmers
    Francis, J. ; Mytelka, L. ; Huis, A. van; Röling, N.G. - \ 2016
    Wageningen : The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) - ISBN 9789290815617 - 255
    Innovation systems, Douglas, Douglass and beyond : using cultural theory to understand approaches to smallholder development in Sub-Saharan Africa
    Röling, N.G. - \ 2016
    In: Innovation systems / Francis, J., Mytelka, L., van Huis, A., Röling, N., Wageningen : The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) - ISBN 9789290815617 - p. 202 - 238.
    Innovation systems (IS) are taken to be coherent and consistent narratives or discourses. This chapter uses the Group/Grid or Cultural Theory (CT) to distinguish four competing IS narratives, each with their own theory of change, criterion variables, strategies, pathways of innovation and designs for innovation platforms (IP):
    1. The business model of agronomy (BMA), based on the methodological individualism of the diffusion of innovations and ‘agricultural treadmill’ paradigms and focusing on technology development to raise yields.
    2. Package and value chain approaches that seek to enable individual entrepreneurship through access to services, inputs, credit and markets and other institutions that reduce transaction costs.
    3. Promotion of rules and regulations (hierarchical institutions) to constrain the pursuit of individual interests for some public goods (governance, control of corruption, sustainable use of natural resources).
    4. Egalitarian approaches that seek to empower, emancipate, strengthen civil society and enhance social capital.
    This framework proves useful for analysing the history of agricultural development in Industrial countries and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to point to ways forward for inclusive approaches to mobilize the vast productive resources under smallholder management in Africa.
    Institutions: Lessons from West Africa
    Röling, N.G. - \ 2016
    Outlook on Agriculture 45 (2016)4. - ISSN 0030-7270 - p. 220 - 224.
    This article uses examples and insights from research in West Africa to analyse the concept of institutions and the
    consequences of their ‘invisibility’ in normal agricultural development practice. Comparative action research across nine
    agricultural domains in West Africa supported experiments with multilevel institutional change as a new approach to farm
    development. The work was inspired by the disappointing results of the prevailing focus on adoption of technology by
    individual farmers. The programme surprised those involved by showing the extent to which diagnostic studies can
    uncover institutional impediments to farm innovation and the ability of multi-stakeholder processes organized by and
    through innovation platforms to create multilevel opportunities for inducing change in institutional regimes. The details of
    each experience have been published elsewhere. This article concludes that if climate change and other systemic crises
    threaten agriculture and natural resource management, then institutional literacy and ingenuity offer a way forward.
    Special issue: System innovation - towards sustainable agriculture Introduction
    Jiggins, J.L.S. ; Ison, R. ; Röling, N.G. - \ 2014
    Outlook on Agriculture 43 (2014)3. - ISSN 0030-7270 - p. 145 - 146.
    Agricultural research – from recommendation domains to arenas for interaction: Experiences from West Africa
    Röling, N. ; Jiggins, J. ; Hounkonnou, D. ; Huis, A. van - \ 2014
    Outlook on Agriculture 43 (2014)3. - ISSN 0030-7270 - p. 179 - 185.
    innovation systems-approach - institutional change - west-africa
    Agricultural research designs tend to be bounded by agroecological conditions, farming systems and other dimensions assumed to be homogeneous for the population of interest (that is, a recommendation domain or population for whom a technology or practice is expected to be relevant). Scaling is then a question of 'rolling out' results across the domain. But what if technology adoption and institutional context explain the variance in the output of smallholders, and agricultural development is also a question of institutional innovation? What if a domain is seen as a system of interest among actors who have a stake in the system and as an arena for concerted action and institutional innovation? This paper reports on six years of action research that attempts to answer these questions. It compares experimental interventions and subsequent systemic changes within each of nine agroenterprise domains. The experience suggests that the research approach used can explain variance in smallholder output that, in present-day West Africa, is not explained by technology adoption.
    Institutional change towards sustainable agriculture in West Africa
    Struik, P.C. ; Klerkx, L.W.A. ; Huis, A. van; Röling, N.G. - \ 2014
    International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 12 (2014)3. - ISSN 1473-5903 - p. 203 - 213.
    innovation systems - farmers - benin - ghana - netherlands - management - sector
    This paper describes why inter- and trans-disciplinary research, accompanied by innovation platforms, is essential in the context of agricultural development in West Africa. The institutional context in West Africa can become a trap for smallholder farmers and for society at large. Therefore, we argue that an enabling institutional context is necessary to achieve an increase in agricultural production. This will have consequences for setting priorities of agricultural research and the way research should be organized in order to have impact. Within the framework of two consecutive programmes, attempts were made to create such an enabling context. The first programme, focusing on participatory technology development, showed that smallholders can capture only limited benefits from technologies because of their constrained opportunities. The point of departure for the second programme was that institutions explain a large portion of variance in agricultural output and that multistakeholder innovation platforms at local, district, and national levels are needed to create change. The paper concludes with an overview of this special issue, which provides nine case studies of institutional factors that influence smallholder innovation. Each of these case studies identifies and analyses institutional mechanisms at aggregation levels higher than the household, farm, or village.
    Diagnosing the scope for innovation: Linking smallholder practices and institutional context : Introduction to the special issue
    Roling, N. ; Hounkonnou, D. ; Kossou, D. ; Kuyper, T.W. ; Nederlof, S. ; Sakyi-Dawson, O. ; Traoré, M. ; Huis, A. van - \ 2012
    NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 60-63 (2012). - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 1 - 6.
    The article introduces the diagnostic studies reported in this special issue and prepares the reader for understanding their full portent, not only as stand-alone articles but also as an expression of a research programme with a common purpose and scientific objective. As such, the article introduces the focus of the CoS–SIS programme on the nexus between farmer practices and institutional context, and primes the reader on the special challenges posed by diagnosis of this nexus. The diagnostic studies scoped the landscape and the regime but mainly as these might impact the niche. What is reported is ‘the view from the niche’. The article explains the structure of the research programme and the role of the PhD researchers in it. It further describes a number of methodological issues common to all.
    An innovation systems approach to institutional change: Smallholder development in West Africa
    Hounkonnou, D. ; Kossou, D. ; Kuyper, T.W. ; Leeuwis, C. ; Nederlof, S. ; Roling, N. ; Sakyi-Dawson, O. ; Traoré, M. ; Huis, A. van - \ 2012
    Agricultural Systems 108 (2012). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 74 - 83.
    agricultural-research - perspective - intensification - environment - management - prices - costs - corn
    Sustainable intensification of smallholder farming is a serious option for satisfying 2050 global cereal requirements and alleviating persistent poverty. That option seems far off for Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) where technology-driven productivity growth has largely failed. The article revisits this issue from a number of angles: current approaches to enlisting SSA smallholders in agricultural development; the history of the phenomenal productivity growth in the USA, The Netherlands and Green Revolution Asia; and the current framework conditions for SSA productivity growth. This analysis shows that (1) the development of an enabling institutional context was a necessary condition that preceded the phenomenal productivity growth in industrial and Green Revolution countries; and that (2) such a context is also present for successful SSA export crop production, but that (3) the context is pervasively biased against SSA’s smallholder food production. The article traces the origins of technology supply push (TSP) as a dominant paradigm that hinders recognition of the role of enabling institutions. The article then reviews the literature on institutional change and zooms in on Innovation Platforms (IPs) as a promising innovation system approach to such change. We describe the concrete experience with IP in the Sub-Sahara Challenge Program (SSA-CP) and in the Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems (CoS-SIS) Program. The former has demonstrated proof of concept. The latter is designed to trace causal mechanisms. We describe its institutional experimentation and research methodology, including causal process tracing. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Consolidating the CoS-SIS Research Agenda. Proceedings of the CoS-SIS Cotonou, Benin Workshop, October 26 – 29, 2010. CoS-SIS Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Agricultural Innovation Systems Programme.
    Huis, A. van; Röling, N.G. ; Youdeowei, A. - \ 2011
    Wageningen : Wageningen University - 179 p.
    Revisiting research design: towards plausible 'proof of principle' on the basis of comparing the CoS-SIS case studies. Are we on track?
    Roling, N. ; Leeuwis, C. - \ 2011
    In: Consolidating the CoS-SIS Research Agenda. Proceedings of the CoS-SIS Cotonou, Benin Workshop, October 26-29, 2010. - Accra, Ghana : Qualitype Ltd. - p. 133 - 139.
    A participatory diagnostic study of the oil palm cropping system on the Adja plateau (Benin) and perspectives for improvement
    Yemadje, H.R.M. ; Vissoh, P.V. ; Mongbo, R. ; Azontonde, A. ; Saidou, A. ; Kossou, D. ; Roling, N. ; Crane, T.A. ; Richards, P. ; Kuyper, T.W. - \ 2011
    In: Proceedings of the CoS-SIS Cotonou, Benin Workshop, 26-29 Oct. 2010, Benin. - Accra, Ghana : Qualitype Ltd. - p. 37 - 45.
    Governance and Contested Land Use in The Netherlands : the Case of the Drentsche Aa
    Bommel, S. van; Aarts, M.N.C. ; Turnhout, E. ; Röling, N.G. - \ 2011
    In: Territorial Governance: Local Development, Rural Areas and Agrofood Systems. Part 2 / Torre, A., Traversac, J.B., Berlin : Springer - ISBN 9783790824216 - p. 123 - 139.
    This chapter investigates, theoretically as well as empirically, the way in which initiatives aimed at territorial governance work out in practice. The concept of territorial governance has increasingly received attention in policy plans as well as in the policy science literature. So far, little is known about how espoused shifts towards territorial governance manifest themselves in practice. By analysing the shift in governance in the Drentsche Aa in the Netherlands, this chapter sheds light on what happens when the espoused shift to territorial governance is applied to concrete situations, in which different dilemmas and opposing forces are at play. It shows that territorial governance in the Drentsche Aa area is struggling with tensions between regional multi-actor practices and hierarchical policy practices. We conclude that shifts in governance indeed occurred in this area, but that they manifested themselves in practice as hybrids between area based hierarchy and multi actor initiatives. As such the shifts are not as straightforward and unambiguous as sometimes thought and/or aimed for in literature, but instead their manifestation in practice is complex, ambiguous and context dependent
    Background and Objectives of the Workshop
    Huis, A. van; Hounkonnou, D. ; Sterk, B. ; Röling, N.G. - \ 2010
    - p. 1 - 2.
    The top 100 questions of importance to the future of global agriculture
    Pretly, J. ; Sutherland, W.J. ; Ashby, J. ; Auburn, J. ; Baulcombe, D. ; Bell, M. ; Bentley, J. ; Bickersteth, S. ; Brown, K. ; Burke, J. ; Campbell, H. ; Chen, K. ; Crowley, E. ; Crute, I. ; Dobbelaere, D. ; Edwards-Jones, G. ; Funes-Monzote, F. ; Godfray, H.C.J. ; Griffon, M. ; Gypmantisiri, P. ; Haddad, L. ; Halavatau, S. ; Herren, H. ; Holderness, M. ; Izac, A.M. ; Jones, M. ; Koohafkan, P. ; Lal, R. ; Lang, T. ; McNeely, J. ; Mueller, A. ; Nisbett, N. ; Noble, A. ; Pingali, P. ; Pinto, Y. ; Rabbinge, R. ; Ravindranath, N.H. ; Rola, A. ; Röling, N.G. ; Sage, C. ; Settle, W. ; Sha, J.M. ; Luo, S.M. ; Simons, T. ; Smith, P. ; Strzepeck, K. ; Swaine, H. ; Terry, E. ; Tomich, T.P. ; Toulmin, C. ; Trigo, E. ; Twomlow, S. ; Vis, J.K. ; Wilson, J. ; Pilgrim, S. - \ 2010
    International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 8 (2010)4. - ISSN 1473-5903 - p. 219 - 236.
    green-revolution - sustainability - biodiversity - conservation - management - science - uk
    Despite a significant growth in food production over the past half-century, one of the most important challenges facing society today is how to feed an expected population of some nine billion by the middle of the 20th century. To meet the expected demand for food without significant increases in prices, it has been estimated that we need to produce 70-100 per cent more food, in light of the growing impacts of climate change, concerns over energy security, regional dietary shifts and the Millennium Development target of halving world poverty and hunger by 2015. The goal for the agricultural sector is no longer simply to maximize productivity, but to optimize across a far more complex landscape of production, rural development, environmental, social justice and food consumption outcomes. However, there remain significant challenges to developing national and international policies that support the wide emergence of more sustainable forms of land use and efficient agricultural production. The lack of information flow between scientists, practitioners and policy makers is known to exacerbate the difficulties, despite increased emphasis upon evidence-based policy. In this paper, we seek to improve dialogue and understanding between agricultural research and policy by identifying the 100 most important questions for global agriculture. These have been compiled using a horizon-scanning approach with leading experts and representatives of major agricultural organizations worldwide. The aim is to use sound scientific evidence to inform decision making and guide policy makers in the future direction of agricultural research priorities and policy support. If addressed, we anticipate that these questions will have a significant impact on global agricultural practices worldwide, while improving the synergy between agricultural policy, practice and research. This research forms part of the UK Government's Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project.
    Opportunities for Oil Palm development in Benin and Ghana: institutional conditions for technological change
    Vissoh, P.V. ; Adjei-Nsiah, S. ; Huis, A. van; Röling, N.G. - \ 2010
    Aspects of Applied Biology 96 (2010). - ISSN 0265-1491 - p. 207 - 214.
    The impact of agricultural research: evidence from West Africa
    Roling, N.G. - \ 2010
    Development in Practice 20 (2010)8. - ISSN 0961-4524 - p. 959 - 971.
    Can agricultural research help to enlist smallholders and their resources for global food security? The Convergence of Sciences (CoS) research programme in Benin and Ghana (2002-2006) tested the impact of technology development, using a pathway for impact which featured 'technographies', diagnostic studies, and farmer-experimenter groups to ensure appropriateness. Within the existing small windows of opportunity only marginal improvements proved possible. The CoS team realised and partly tested the notion that innovation is predicated upon change of the institutions that frame opportunity. The sequel to CoS (2008-2013) uses an innovation system approach to pursue cross-system institutional change. Keywords: Globalisation; Governance; Social sector; Technology
    Professionals in Context: How Robust Is the Normative Model?
    Röling, N.G. - \ 2009
    Irrigation and Drainage 58 (2009)2. - ISSN 1531-0353 - p. S225 - S230.
    science - water
    Research on successful change often leads to a normative model. What was an empirical outcome becomes a prescription for action. In water management, research on platforms for decision-making, multi-stakeholder processes, social learning, and participatory interventions seems to have made this step to new orthodoxy. Compared to agricultural development, where many still expect technology (smart farming, precision farming, genomics, etc.) to provide the necessary answers to the challenges of anthropogenic biosphere change, thinking about water solutions seems to have moved on and embraced a new normative model that sees necessary action as emerging from the interaction (deliberation, negotiation, conflict resolution, etc.) of multiple stakeholders. However positive this development, the seriousness of the challenges posed by the fact that people have become a major force of nature that is rapidly altering the flimsy and fragile biosphere, compels us to ask whether the normative model can handle these challenges. Some points that will be considered are: (1) inequalities of power among stakeholders, (2) the disproportional influence of vested interest, (3) higher-level institutional conditions and incentive structures, (4) compromises that undermine efficacious action, (5) and institutions that are geared to economic growth, not to prudent water use (incompatibility between hydrological cycle and linear growth). The paper attempts to examine these issues and to draw some implications for water professionals.
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