Relevance and impact

The KTI programme addresses several thematic areas (see below) that relate to the policy and practice of socio-technical innovation and development.

 Our research has impact in society through different pathways:

  1. Reflexive methodologies and approaches support stakeholders in re-configuring their environment
  2. Insights on supporting innovation and re-configuration are taken up by international organisations and policy makers
  3. Collaboration with societal partners during research processes allows stakeholders to develop and use intermediary insights
  4. We link our research to societal controversies

Furthermore, our many PhD graduates apply insights and competences generated in their current work as innovation policy makers, applied researchers, process facilitators, consultants, university lecturers and/or in advocacy roles. We provide brief examples of above pathways below.

1. Reflexive methodologies supporting sustainable agriculture

Barbara van Mierlo has spearheaded the development of Reflexive Monitoring in Action (RMA). This methodology supports critical reflection in innovation projects, and helps these cope with uncertainties involved in transformative re-configuration. RMA was applied in several sustainable agricultural innovation trajectories in the Netherlands, and the efficacy of the approach has been documented. The approach is also used by professionals in e.g. New Zealand and Switzerland. RMA handbooks are referenced by the World Bank, Rathenau Institute and transition websites.

1 + 2. Innovation brokers and platforms for inclusive smallholder development

In the transdisciplinary research programme Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems, ten KTI staff/students worked on understanding and addressing technological and institutional constraints to smallholder development in Ghana and Benin. Findings informed nested multi-stakeholder platforms to start the process of re-configuring those constraints, resulting in beneficial socio-technical innovations. The approach has largely been copied by the CGIAR Humidtropics programme, the West-and-Central-African-Council-for-Agricultural-Research-and-Development (CORAF/WECARD) and has informed curriculum development in partner Universities. Related work by Laurens Klerkx and Cees Leeuwis on the roles of innovation brokers in multi-actor innovation networks attracted attention of policy makers from key international organizations (OECD, World Bank, FAO, EC, IICA Ministries in Netherlands, Chile, New Zealand, Canada, Australia) and has informed policy formulation and capacity building efforts.

3. Informing marginal groups in negotiating resettlement

PhD student Jessica Milgroom studied livelihoods of people who were to be resettled from Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. The very fact that she was interviewing people and measuring their access to land and resources, influenced the dynamics of the resettlement process. Villagers became more knowledgeable about their resources, and this strengthened their claim for compensation during negotiations with Park authorities.

4. The controversy about the System of Rice Intensification

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a 'new' rice cultivation approach that is advocated by several development NGOs. Its pro’s and con’s are heavily contested in science and society. Research led by Harro Maat has sharpened insight in the highly diverse performance of SRI in practice (depending e.g. on labour availability), and NGOs in India have incorporated these insights in their promotion strategies. The finding that SRI has historical antecedents in conventional agronomy, has re-configured the international debate.