A multiple source of innovation model of agricultural research and technology promotion
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Agricultural research and technology diffusion represent a critical facet of development work. This article identifies and contrasts two models for understanding this process: The central model and the multiple source model. The central model, identified as the most dominant, focuses on institutions which generate and transfer technology. Biggs describes this model as having clearly defined goals for developing a technology, a hierarchical structure, and a linear perspective. Biggs explains that the multiple source model de-emphasizes formal researchers, instead focusing on networks of extension agents, technology users, and NGOs. This model operates in an historical context, taking into account the political, economic and social factors with which a technology is developed and diffused. The article uses this historical context to explain research institutions’ evolution, and explores the motivations of different actors in the research and development of agricultural technologies. Issues that arise as a result of the central model are identified as: second generation problems; inability of users to influence research, and the division between production and maintenance research. Reasons for the dominance of the central model are identified, including the competition for funds, researchers’ desire for recognition, and the organizational structure of formal institutions. Biggs argues that the multiple source model allows for greater consideration of the political, environmental, and economic factors critical to determining effective research agendas. Additionally, he maintains that this model, as tool for increased understanding and two-way knowledge transfer, will lead to greater collaboration, more consideration of nontraditional stakeholders such as landless laborers, and the empowerment of locally based development groups.