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Traditional approaches to innovation systems policymaking and governance often focus exclusively onthe central provision of services, regulations, fiscal measures, and subsidies. This study, however,considers that innovation systems policymaking and governance also has to do with the structures andprocedures decision makers set up to provide incentives for innovating agents and the interaction andcollaboration among them, thus enabling innovation. Based on the concepts of agent-centeredinstitutionalism and innovation systems, governance can be understood to refer to integrating multiplegovernment and non-government actors in different actor constellations depending on roles, mandates,and strategic visions. Any effort to govern the system composed of those agents needs to take intoaccount the limitations that any policymaking body has in dictating how agents behave and interact. Inconsequence governance in innovation systems has less to do with executing research and administeringextension services and more to do with guiding diverse actors involved in complex innovation processesthrough the rules and incentives that foster the creation, application, and diffusion of knowledge andtechnologies.The report presents results from a study that analyzed to what extent the Bolivian AgriculturalTechnology System (SIBTA), as part of the country’s agricultural innovation system, has complied with aset of governance principles—including participation of stakeholders (especially small farmers) indecision making, transparency and openness, responsiveness and accountability, consensus orientationand coherence, and strategic vision—and compares those principles with benchmarks of innovationsystems governance in five other developing countries. Data in Bolivia were collected by means of anexpert consultation and interviews with a wide range of key actors and stakeholders from variousorganizations involved in agricultural innovation in the system. The empirical findings of the studysuggest the following:• A research and technology transfer program such as SIBTA constitutes only part of an innovationsystem and there are other important complementary functions with which the government has tocomply to foster innovation. Rather than aiming to carry out research and extension, governmentsshould focus on overall planning on the macro level and bringing the above functions together sothey reach the innovating agents. To do this they need to involve themselves in planning andpolicy analysis, the setting of consultation platforms, supporting the building of innovationnetworks, and setting up specific funding mechanisms.• Setting up decentralized semiautonomous agencies that administer funds and design innovationprojects does not automatically lead to sufficient participation of local producer organizations andtechnology providers. More participation requires special rules and incentives to collaborate andthe special efforts of all involved, and eventually further decentralization on the regional level.• Weak leadership and limited commitment, rather than a decentralized structure or the delegationof too much power, have prevented governments from taking a more active role in governingtheir innovation systems. Decentralization, however, should not stand in the way of a nationalstrategic vision, and mechanisms need to be put in place to discuss and harmonize national- andlocal-level priorities.• Simply being responsive to the demands of farmers does not necessarily imply that one isgenerating the best technical solutions. Generating adequate innovations requires the participationof many: leading and other producers, knowledge and technology providers, buyers, input sellers,funding agencies, advisory services, and others. It also requires analysis and identification oftechnological and market opportunities. Policymakers should foster in-depth analysis of farmers’demands on the local level through decentralized organizations, which simultaneously help toorient these demands to where technological and market opportunities lie. This requires improvedanalytical and planning capacities as well as intensive communication with the farmers andagents who benefit from new and promising technologies.

Keywords: Agricultural Innovation System ; Governance ; Innovation Policy ; Bolivia

Subject(s): Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies

Issue Date: 2007

Publication Type: Working or Discussion Paper

PURL Identifier:

Total Pages: 80

Series Statement: IFPRI Discussion Paper


Record appears in: CGIAR > International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) > IFPRI Discussion Papers

Autor: Hartwich, Frank ; Alexaki, Anastasia ; Baptista, René


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