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How may research take part in innovation processes involving multiple stakeholder partnerships? Lessons, challenges and opportunities

Triomphe B., Hocdé H., Faure G.. 2007. In : Farmer First Revisited: Farmer Participatory Research and Development Twenty Years on, December 12-17, 2007 Brighton, UK. s.l. : s.n., 9 p.. Workshop Farmer First Revisited: Farmer Participatory Research and Development Twenty Years On, 2007-12-12/2007-12-14, Brighton (Royaume-Uni).

Approaches to innovation development based on action-research principles and involving partnerships among multiple stakholders have become common place in the last 10 years. But many lessons have yet to be learnt about such approaches. To contribute to fill the gap, a study was launched by CIRAD in 2005 to systematize and compare a series of contrasting experiences in which research has been conducted with local actors (such as farmers and farmers' organizations, extension services, governments, private sector, etc.). The main objectives of this study were (i) to draw lessons in terms of research approaches, modalities, methods, tools, and results and (ii) to propose guidelines for improving the design and conduct of research projects focusing on the conception of innovations in partnership among multiple stakeholders. Cross-analysis of the case studies was pursued in three directions: (1) the balance reached between problem resolution, knowledge generation and empowerment of local actors, (2) the formalization of partnerships and (3) the modalities adopted for steering activities and for partnership governance. Preliminary results confirm the role of 3 factors in shaping the efficacy and efficiency of multiple stakeholder partnership between researchers and other actors. One is that values and goals are among the items about which common ground needs to be identified, negotiated among stakeholders if the partnership is to prosper. Another lesson is to recognize that the diverse set-ups co-constructed among stakeholders are not only means to achieve common objectives, but they also embody high-stake challenges throughout the project life. Finally, one should be aware of the asymmetries among stakeholders in any given partnership, and the necessity to build the capacity of the weakest partners. Taking on board such lessons has important consequences for research at the individual and institutional levels.

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