PhD Opportunity

Gepubliceerd op
18 december 2013

A unique opportunity exists for an outstanding first class Honours or Masters student to undertake a PhD study as part of an interdisciplinary Primary Innovation research programme in New Zealand. The PhD is a collaboration between Massey University in New Zealand and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Project Summary

Technology transfer in the NZ biological industries – forestry, horticulture and pastoral – is substantially under-delivering the potential impacts of new technologies. Economic and environmental costs will grow as the biological industries increasingly face complex problems involving multiple stakeholders with competing interests, such as sustainable forest management, and water quality in Lake Rotorua.
Systemic changes are required because technology transfer by itself is not enough to meet future challenges. We need to fundamentally change how we innovate in the NZ biological industries. Failure to consider the wider social, economic, environmental and regulatory drivers that influence technology impact must be considered or new technologies will rarely achieve intended impacts, even after considerable investment in technology transfer.

The Primary Innovation programme demonstrates a new systems approach to innovation; agricultural innovation systems (AIS). In this approach, webs of participants in the NZ biological industries form innovation networks to co-develop solutions to our industry’s critical problems. From this process of co-innovation, problems are addressed by a mix of technologies, practices, policies and price changes. A unique trans-disciplinary team from 3 sectors – forestry, cropping and pastoral – and across 24 industry organisations, CRIs and universities. The AIS approach is being applied, adapted and evaluated using participatory action research in case study projects across the three primary sectors including the dairy industry.

The PhD study will be an integral part of the programme, and will focus on aspects of AIS that enhance innovation in the New Zealand dairy industry, in an association between Massey and Wageningen Universities. The New Zealand Dairy Industry is the largest global exporter of milk products in the world and the leading source of export receipts for the New Zealand economy. For the New Zealand dairy industry to retain its position in the global economy, its dairy farmers must be the most innovative producers of milk in the world. Central to this aim is the innovation systems that provide New Zealand dairy farmers with their competitive advantage. On-going learning from applying the AIS approach to these problems will anchor learning in broader institutions, organisations and industry structures to prevent ‘islands of success’.

The successful PhD student will undertake a multiple-case study on technologies that have the potential to enhance the productivity, profitability, resilience and environmental sustainability of New Zealand dairy farmers. This study will involve working closely with farmers, scientists, extension personnel, consultants and other rural professionals to explore and describe the specific attributes of the innovation systems associated with the technologies. The results of this study will assist the New Zealand dairy industry to enhance its innovation system to ensure its dairy farmers remain the most innovative farmers in the world. Topics may include: systemic barriers and enablers; co-innovation experiences; new roles of research and extension; and institutional change in the dairy innovation system.

The successful applicant will join a multi-disciplinary research program that includes established researchers from CRIs and three universities; Massey, Wageningen and SRUC. The research team seeks an enthusiastic individual who is comfortable interacting with a range of actors including farmers and have a desire to contribute to leading edge research in innovation in the primary sector.

Scholarship Funding

Funding will be awarded on a competitive basis. Total funding of $NZ 40,000 for a 3-year full-time PhD scholarship will be provided to suitable candidates. The scholarship covers a stipend (recommended to be $NZ 25,000 to $NZ 30,000 per year), fees and limited consumables/working expenses.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students:

  • Must be eligible to enrol in a recognised doctoral programme of study and research at Massey University;
  • Not work more than 10 hours per week in paid employment while in receipt of this scholarship;


Closing date: January 5, 2014