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Territory matters: Exploring the functioning of an innovation system through the filter of local territorial practices - the example of the adoption of cashew trees in Burkina Faso

Audouin S., Gazull L., Gautier D.. 2018. Journal of Rural Studies, 63 : p. 130-140.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.08.007

In rural areas of developing countries, highly sociologically and ecologically diverse, needs for innovation are location specific. Spatial patterns of innovation are usually linked to a geography-specific factor rather than to technological imperatives. To explore the links between the dynamics of innovation and space, recent transition studies tried to analyze and conceptualize how spatial relationships and place-specificities can influence the dynamics and functioning of technological innovation systems (TIS). However, these attempts are still nascent and few have addressed the interactions between innovation systems and territorial specificities in the agricultural sector. In this paper, we explore the relations between the main functions of innovation systems (IS) and a set of territorial practices at local level. Territory is considered to be a powerful concept to analyze the relations between space and social groups and is widely used in both urban or rural areas. We developed an approach based on the analysis of the overall interactions between the six main functions of IS and a set of five territorial practices. We applied the approach to a major technological agricultural innovation in Burkina Faso: the introduction of cashew nut plantations, which has had significant success at national scale, while different degrees of adoption are observed at local level. Our results show that the territory is more than a simple contextual element of IS, it also helps spatialize the innovation process. We show that the local success or failure of the cashew nut innovation can be explained by specific combinations of territorial practices. The integration of local territorial practices in IS analysis makes it possible to identify key local actors and practices that are barely identifiable in the conceptual framework of IS. Our case study highlights the role of migrants and how ownership and governance practices matter. This paper also contributes to an integrated framework of TIS structures and functions coupled with territorial practices capable of demonstrating how the territorial dimension shapes TIS performances over time.

Mots-clés : systèmes d'innovation; territoire; utilisation des terres; pratique agricole; analyse de système; anacardium occidentale; propriété foncière; gouvernance foncière; burkina faso; développement territorial

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