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The evolution of the MasAgro hubs : responsiveness and serendipity as drivers of agricultural innovation in a dynamic and heterogeneous context

Author: Camacho Villa, T.C.
Author: Almekinders, C.
Author: Hellin, J.
Author: Martinez-Cruz, T.E.
Author: Rendon-Medel, R.
Author: Guevara-Hernández, F.
Author: Beuchelt, T.D.
Author: Govaerts, B.
Year: 2016
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10883/18547
Descriptors: Training programmes
Descriptors: Innovation adoption
Abstract: Little is known about effective ways to operationalize agricultural innovation processes. We use the MasAgro program in Mexico (which aims to increase maize and wheat productivity, profitability and sustainability), and the experiences of middle level ‘hub managers’, to understand how innovation processes occur in heterogeneous and changing contexts. Design/methodology/ approach: We use a comparative case study analysis involving research tools such as documentary review, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and reflection workshops with key actors. Findings: Our research shows how a program, that initially had a relatively narrow technology focus, evolved towards an innovation system approach. The adaptive management of such a process was in response to context-specific challenges and opportunities. In the heterogeneous context of Mexico this results in diverse ways of operationalization at the hub level, leading to different collaborating partners and technology portfolios. Practical implications: MasAgro experiences merit analysis in the light of national public efforts to transform agricultural advisory services and accommodate pluralistic agricultural extension approaches in Latin America. Such efforts need long-term coherent macro level visions, frameworks and support, while the serendipitous nature of the process requires meso-level implementers to respond and adapt to and move the innovation process forward. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the debate on how to operationalize large programs by showing that the innovation support arrangements enacted in the field should allow for diversity and have a degree of flexibility to accommodate heterogeneous demands from farmers in different contexts as well as continuous changes in the politico- institutional environment.
Abstract: Purpose: Little is known about effective ways to operationalize agricultural innovation processes. We use the MasAgro program in Mexico (which aims to increase maize and wheat productivity, profitability and sustainability), and the experiences of middle level ‘hub managers’, to understand how innovation processes occur in heterogeneous and changing contexts. Design/methodology/approach: We use a comparative case study analysis involving research tools such as documentary review, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and reflection workshops with key actors. Findings: Our research shows how a program, that initially had a relatively narrow technology focus, evolved towards an innovation system approach. The adaptive management of such a process was in response to context-specific challenges and opportunities. In the heterogeneous context of Mexico this results in diverse ways of operationalization at the hub level, leading to different collaborating partners and technology portfolios. Practical implications: MasAgro experiences merit analysis in the light of national public efforts to transform agricultural advisory services and accommodate pluralistic agricultural extension approaches in Latin America. Such efforts need long-term coherent macro level visions, frameworks and support, while the serendipitous nature of the process requires meso-level implementers to respond and adapt to and move the innovation process forward. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the debate on how to operationalize large programs by showing that the innovation support arrangements enacted in the field should allow for diversity and have a degree of flexibility to accommodate heterogeneous demands from farmers in different contexts as well as continuous changes in the politico- institutional environment
Language: English
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact CIMMYT-Knowledge-Center@cgiar.org indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Article
Country: Mexico
Place: New York, USA
Pages: 455-470
Journal issue: 5
Journal: The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension
Journal volume: 22
DOI: 10.1080/1389224X.2016.1227091
Audicence: Researchers
Country of Focus: MEXICO


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  • Sustainable Intensification
    Sustainable intensification agriculture including topics on cropping systems, agronomy, soil, mechanization, precision agriculture, etc.

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