Beyond knowledge brokering: an exploratory study on innovation intermediaries in an evolving smallholder agricultural system in Kenya

  • Catherine W. Kilelu
  • Laurens Klerkx Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, Wagenigen University and Research
  • Cees Leeuwis Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, Wagenigen University and Research
  • Andy Hall
Keywords: networks, innovation, knowledge, brokering, agriculture, Kenya

Abstract

The recognition that innovation occurs in networks of heterogeneous actors and requires broad systemic support beyond knowledge brokering has resulted in a changing landscape in the intermediary domain in the increasingly market-driven agricultural sector in developing countries. This paper presents findings of an explorative case study that looked at 22 organizations identified as fulfilling an intermediary role in the Kenyan agricultural sector. The results show that these organizations fulfill functions that are not limited to distribution of knowledge and putting it into use but also include fostering integration and interaction among the diverse actors engaged in innovation networks and working on technological, organizational, and institutional innovation. Further, the study has identified various organizational arrangements of innovation intermediaries, with some organizations fulfilling a specialized innovation brokering role and other intermediaries taking on brokering as a side activity, while substantively contributing to the innovation process. On the basis of these findings, we identify a typology of four innovation intermediation arrangements including technology broker, systemic broker, enterprise development support, and input access support. The results indicate that innovation brokering is a pervasive task in supporting innovation and will require policy support to embed it in innovation support arrangements, but without prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach.

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Published
2019-08-16