Innovating Development to Develop Innovation

Call for MSc Students!
Seeking a Project to Make Your MSc Thesis Relevant?
Interested to Combine Research, Innovation & Development?
Here is YOUR topic: Innovating Development to Develop Innovation: Mapping CDI Toolbox to Improve Performance of Local Fresh Food Chains in Emerging Economies

Mapping CDI Toolbox to Improve Performance of Local Fresh Food Chains in Emerging Economies


The core focus of this research is to analyze the project portfolio of the Centre of Development Innovation (CDI). CDI’s vision is to “Create Capacities for Change.” CDI works on “change processes through facilitating innovation, brokering knowledge and supporting capacity development.” Being part of Wageningen UR, CDI is one of the most active and “on the market” applied research institutes and globally recognized for its work in emerging economies. CDI projects aim to create capacities for change, which departs from the traditional development approach of “doing direct change interventions”. This involves:

  1. Facilitating local stakeholders – value chain actors, NGOs, public sector, movements and civil society - to organize themselves and to make the best use of locally available resources; and
  2. Building capacities of local partners to manage the complex set of value chain actor’ relationships and stakeholder relationships according to their own organizational/institutional aims.

Through its assignments, CDI has developed over time a number of innovative tools. Yet, what CDI now needs is a support to systematically map and assess the effectiveness of its “toolbox”.

What CDI Will Expect From You:

The supervised student will provide CDI with a map of CDI’s “toolbox” used to create capacities for change in local fresh food chains. The analysis of each “tool” will include: 1) used resources, 2) undertaken processes, 3) intended impacts (at multiple levels) and a consideration of the 4) problems that stimulated CDI to choose the methods depending on the context.

As final output of the research, the student will develop a theoretical and methodological framework to test which tools and methods are effective to improve the performance of local fresh food chains in different contexts. Ultimately, this analysis should be useful for CDI to develop a full research proposal around the question: what methods/ tools are effective to improve the performance of local fresh food chains in different contexts?

Who CDI + MST Group Are Looking For:

You are a “go-getting” MSc student willing to apply your skillset in agribusiness value chains, agricultural economics, entrepreneurship & innovation and/or international development to frame the practical challenge of a development organization into a set of researchable questions that could be tackled with sound methodologies. Students that apply should have a keen interest in action-oriented research and being capable of exploring and choosing methods to assess the effectiveness of development practice tools across disciplines.

Broad (Initial) Research Questions:

Using the concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation, which will provide the theoretical framework to this research, the broad questions are:

  • What are the key resources and processes used by CDI tools to create capacities for change in and around local fresh supply chains, and thus their performance, in emerging economies?
  • How do the local problems/issues influence CDI choice of different tools? And how does the availability of local resources influence the tool choice brought by CDI?
  • Which governance mechanisms are introduced by CDI through different tools, including networks, formal or informal rules/procedures, or market transactions?


Contact Dr. Domenico Dentoni (Management Studies Group) at with cover letter and course list. Possibility of working in joint supervision also with Dr. Jos Bijman and/or Prof. Jacques Trienekens. The student will also have a CDI “entry point” who will give access to data and CDI staff to interview.