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Concepts and theories available to describe the functioning and dynamics of agricultural advisory services. Learning for the inventory (PRO AKIS WP3) : Deliverable WP2-1 (Pro AKIS: Prospect for Farmers' Support: Advisory Services in European AKIS ; WP2: Advisory services within AKIS: International debates)

Labarthe P., Caggiano M., Laurent C., Faure G., Cerf M., Cristovao A., Knierim A., Moumouni I., Prager K., Sutherland L.A.. 2013. Bruxelles : Union Européenne, 31 p..

The aim of this document is to produce a state-of-t he-art of the academic literature in order to identify theories and concepts available for: a) de scribing the structure, the dynamics and the functioning of agricultural advisory services; b) understanding how these services are embedded into national Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Syst ems (AKIS), and into various agricultural and rural policies across the European Union (EU) count ries; c) providing some conceptual elements to support the methodology for an inventory of agricul tural advisory services in EU 27 countries (WP3 of the PRO AKIS project), and for the selection of case studies (WP4 of the PRO AKIS project) . Recent reviews of the literature indicate some challenges for the analysis, the implementation and the evaluation of agricultural advisory services (Faure et al. 2012, Birner et al. 2009). These reviews st ress the need to switch towards a best fit perspective: " promoting "one-size-fits-all" approaches are inappropriate for agricultural advisory services.[. ..] What is important is to build capacity among policy-planners, managers and researchers to identi fy modes of providing and (...) advisory services that "best fit" the specific conditions and develop ment priorities of their countries " (Birner et al 2009). If such debates have a growing importance in the co ntexts of South countries, they need to be intensified in Europe through comparative analyses. The report proposes an analysis of agricultural advisory services according to the diversity of i) their methods, ii) their funding principles and iii ) their aims, beyond their common characteristics. It is al so possible to propose a consistent set of tools fo r describing these three dimensions. All these issues also open a new research agenda. Some of them will be considered in the realm of the PRO AKIS pro ject (e.g. systematic reviews of available knowledge on the effectiveness of farm advisory ser vices carried out in WP2; case studies on innovation dynamics in different EU countries in WP 4). This document, as well as the project more globally, aims at contributing to the policy debate , emphasizing the need for a more integrated vision of advisory services as instruments of European pol icies involving agriculture and innovation.

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