Why innovation is not always good: innovation discourses and political accountability

Maarten Crivits, Michaël De Krom, Joost Dessein, Thomas Block

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    Innovation is rarely considered a point of contention in agriculture. It
    invariably seems to denote some type of intrinsically desired newness associated
    with effective commercialization of a new technology, idea or organizational form.
    However, once innovation is considered as something happening within a network
    or ‘system’ of interdependent actors, it becomes clear that different interpretations
    and appropriations of innovation are co-evolving in a competitive framework.
    Although the authors acknowledge the importance of collective learning processes as
    a basis for overcoming barriers to innovation in networks, they caution that such a
    view of innovation insufficiently conceptualizes the role of power. To gain insight
    into how more inclusive innovation processes can be built, the authors evaluate how
    farmers’ interests can be articulated and how innovation networks can be held
    accountable to ensure fair representation of the diversity of farmers’ views. They
    propose a framework anchored in deliberative democratic theory that attributes
    significant transformative power to deliberation in decision making. The framework
    is based on the concept of ‘discursive accountability’, in which representation is
    related to a procedure guaranteeing a maximum of relevant discourses to be
    articulated within collective decision making in governance networks. The authors
    substantiate its utility through a case study of pig farming in Flanders, using
    discourse analysis to reveal how the discursive framings of farmers reflect an
    ongoing tension between the linear and the participatory innovation discourses.
    They complement this analysis with an assessment of the collective outcomes of a
    series of ‘dialogue days’ in the Flemish pig sector.
    TijdschriftOutlook on Agriculture
    Pagina's (van-tot)147–155
    StatusGepubliceerd - 15-sep-2014

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