Inderscience Publishers

Analysing organisational learning capacity as a window on the national agricultural innovation system: a participatory approach in Nicaragua

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The agricultural innovation system can be strengthened by increasing the learning capacity of research and field organisations. Participatory methods were developed to study three dimensions of the capacity of such organisations in Nicaragua to access and analyse information, highly correlated to learning capacity – the individual routines of their professionals, the formal procedures of the organisation and the organisation's use of collaborative projects to strengthen core operations. These and the results of a study of the origins of recent innovations in agro-industry and on farms, indicated the strength of linkages in the innovation system. The system is producing innovations at a slow rate and not necessarily with substantial gains in efficiency. Research and field organisations have some links with farmers, but not with farmer organisations and even fewer with the input supply sector, agro-industry and traders. Suggestions are made for improving individual information seeking routines, using collaborative projects for strengthening learning capacity and for building strategic alliances.

Keywords: agricultural innovation systems, Nicaragua, organisational learning, learning capacity, participatory methods, collaborative projects, strategic alliances, information retrieval

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