TransForum-project 'Self-organisation in innovation networks' in the news
Monday, 22 November 2010 14:04
The most recent issue of the journal 'Agricultural Systems' contained an article entitled Adaptive management in agricultural innovation systems: The interactions between innovation networks and their environment.
Innovative businesses always have to deal with an environment that affects the realisation of their innovation: the government may not be framing helpful legislation and regulations, other players in the market may be averse to supporting the innovation, and then what to do about awkward non-governmental organisations? The article describes how innovative businesses and the networks they create deal with these environmental factors and, in so far as they are able, turn them to account. The conclusion is that it is important to work towards 'adaptive innovation management', that is, to keep adjusting in line with the changing circumstances. This is because the intentional actions of the innovators can have unintentional consequences and because all sorts of aspects play at higher levels (such as market developments, political changes and public debates) where innovators lack any direct influence.
Adaptive innovation management is not easy in a network consisting of all sorts of players, such as knowledge institutes, entrepreneurs, NGOs, government agencies and intermediaries. Important considerations in this respect are:
Innovation networks must have a shared vision with which multiple parties can identify. Visualisation is highly important in this regard (see also the recent publication of the TransForum article 'Future sustainability and images), so that the vision becomes tangible. This vision needs to be sufficiently crystallised out while also being sufficiently flexible to encompass new players and their requirements. The networks need to have a large number of 'cross-border workers' capable of making connections with other parties in order to tackle problems.
Also evident is the value of a facilitator, such as TransForum, that is positioned above the parties and capable of making unexpected connections and acting as a mediator in the event of disputes.
The cooperation among the various cross-border workers and facilitators in an innovation network of this kind is the subject of another publication: Shaping championing and innovation intermediation in interaction: conflicts and complementarities in innovation communities. This article will probably be published shortly in an academic journal; in the meantime it has already been selected from 136 submissions as one of the three prize-winning articles at the 9th Wageningen International Conference on Chain and Network Management. (www.wicanem2010.nl) Researchers Laurens Klerkx and Noelle Aarts received the 'Emerging Scholar Award' for this work.