The “efficient boundaries” of international agricultural research: A conceptual framework with empirical illustrations

Kamanda, J and Birner, R and Bantilan, C (2017) The “efficient boundaries” of international agricultural research: A conceptual framework with empirical illustrations. Agricultural Systems, 150. pp. 78-85. ISSN 0308521X

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The international agricultural research centers known as CGIAR have played an important role with regard to global food security. Yet, their mandate remains debated: Should they concentrate on producing global public goods, for which they arguably have a comparative advantage, or should they engage in “downstream” activities of the research-development continuum and promote technology adoption on the ground, so as to increase their impact? This paper contributes to resolving this debate by developing a new conceptual framework, which is based on transaction costs economics and makes it possible to identify a range of factors that determine the comparative advantage of international versus national organizations. The different transactions involved in the development and uptake of products from international agricultural research are illustrated by an empirical case study of the legume improvement program of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Data collection involved a participatory mapping technique (Net-Map) as well as key informant interviews. The paper draws attention to the governance problems involved in downstream activities, which influence the comparative advantage of international versus national organizations in the research-development continuum. Policy implications are derived for the ongoing reform of the CGIAR and for future research on this topic.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agricultural innovation; Comparative advantage; Governance; Transaction cost economics; Food security; CGIAR; New conceptual framework
Subjects: Others > Agricultural R&D
Others > CGIAR Research
Others > Agricultural Research
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 05:30
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2016 05:30
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: We would like to acknowledge the support of the Food Security Centre at University of Hohenheimand by extension the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Foundation Fiat Panis. The CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) also made financial resources available for this study. The funding sources had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis and write-up, and in the decision to submit the article for publication. We thank Dave Hoisington, John Ilukor, Jeff Davis and Rupsha Banerjee for their comments on earlier versions of this paper.
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