Understanding innovation platform effectiveness through experiences from west and central Africa

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journal article
Agricultural Systems
Davies, J.
Maru, Y.
Hall, A.
Abdourhamaned, I. K.
Adegbidi, A.
Carberry, P.
Dorai, K.
Ennin, S. A.
Etwire, P. M.
McMillan, L.
Njoya, A.
Ouedraogo, S.
Traoré, A.
Traoré–Gué, N. J.
Watson, I.

Innovation platforms (IPs) are a way of organizing multistakeholder interactions, marshalling ideas, people and resources to address challenges and opportunities embedded in complex settings. The approach has its roots in theories of complexity, the concept of innovation systems and practices of participatory action research. IPs have been widely adopted across Africa and beyond in recent years as a “must have” tool in a range of “for development” modes of agricultural research. The authors' experiences with establishing and facilitating nine IPs in local settings in west and central Africa contribute to understanding factors that impact on their effectiveness. The nine IPs were variously focused on developing dairy, crop and/or meat value chains by strengthening mixed crop-livestock production systems or seed systems. Using case study methods, the authors identified variables that contribute to explaining the performance of these IPs in relation to six domains of change in the agricultural system and the sustainability of changes. Thematic analysis was guided by a conceptual framework which grouped variables into four categories (context, structure, conduct, and process) that interact to influence IP performance.

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