- The art of 'doing' sustainable agricultural innovation: approaches and attitudes to facilitating transitional projects
- Book title
- System innovations, knowledge regimes, and design practices towards transitions for sustainable agriculture
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The management of projects for sustainable innovation is characterised by a variety of intricacies. Facilitators play a central role in dealing with these challenges. Adopting an empirical approach, this chapter discusses the practical approaches and attitudes that facilitators develop to deal with such challenges in the domain of agricultural innovation. To that end, the paper presents a list of four intricacies inherent in running projects that seek to enhance sustainable development, based on the literature: 1) the challenge of combining the ambition of sustainable change with the need for responsiveness in facilitating processes of joint planning and design; 2) the need to develop and use knowledge in a practice-oriented manner in an often science-oriented context; 3) the need to develop an innovative ‘niche’ within a context of vested powers; and 4) the need to reach beyond a project’s duration to ‘anchor’ the dynamics by which its ambitions may be realized in the future. Three cases of managing projects for sustainable (agricultural) innovation are described, highlighting the practical ways in which the respective facilitators in each case deal with the four identified challenges. It is found that attitudes developed by a facilitator differ per project yet that similarities can be identified. Differences can be observed mainly between approaches in facilitating projects that seek to explore the notion of sustainability in terms of guidelines for future practice, and projects that aim at developing concrete implementable designs. Within these two types of projects, facilitators are seen to be engaged in a continual balancing act between two identifiable attitudes: a responsive, serviceable attitude, through which the facilitator seeks to connect with participants and to be responsive to their needs and wishes (called a Learning approach here), and an attitude of leadership, through which the facilitator decides more or less alone on the way the process is to move forward (dubbed here a Leading approach).
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