DOI: 10.12924/of2017.03010020 |Publication Date: 5 May 2017

Changes in Knowledge Management Strategies Can Support Emerging Innovative Actors in Organic Agriculture: The Case of Participatory Plant Breeding in Europe

Livia Ortolani 1, 2, * , Riccardo Bocci 2 , Paolo Bàrberi 3 , Sally Howlett 4 and Véronique Chable 5
1 Interdepartmental Centre for Agro-environmental Research "Enrico Avanzi", San Piero a Grado, Italy
2 Associazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Biologica, Rome, Italy
3 Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
4 Organic Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall, UK
5 INRA Centre Rennes-Le Rheu, Le Rheu, France
* Corresponding author
Abstract: The “transfer of technology”, typical of a top-down linear process of innovation cannot be used in the new contexts of sustainability, characterised by uncertainty and complexity. There is a need to redefine categories and concepts around which innovation and agricultural policies are built, as those currently in use provide only a partial representation of reality. Innovation paradigms underpinning technological development and public policies design will have a direct impact on decisions regarding which agricultural models will ultimately be supported. Looking at local learning capacity and systems of relations can help to understand the potential to develop innovation within a specific context. This work contributes to the definition of new actors who are developing innovation for sustainability in rural areas. The study focuses on the knowledge systems of farmers who are applying alternative breeding strategies: it uses a network approach to explore the knowledge system in which individual farmers are embedded in order to understand their specific relational features. Three main conclusions emerge from the study: for enhancing the agro-ecological innovation paradigm there is a need to define the ‘innovation broker’, to revise the evaluation system of public research and to integrate innovation and agricultural policies.

Keywords: innovation paradigms; network analysis; advisory services; research evaluation

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2012 - 2017 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).