Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

From Knowledge Ecology to Innovation Systems: Agricultural Innovations and Their Diffusion in Uzbekistan

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

From Knowledge Ecology to Innovation Systems: Agricultural Innovations and Their Diffusion in Uzbekistan

Article excerpt

Shtoby bumaga rabotala nujny nogi (to make paper work, legs are needed)

(Interview notes 14.03.11, SANIRI)

The paper aims to analyze innovation systems in Uzbekistan with regard to organizations (struc- tures), institutions (sets of common habits, norms, routines) and linkages (interactions) between both (Edquist, 1997; Kraemer-Mbula & Wamae, 2010, p. 43). Conceptually, we therefore build on past and ongoing discussions on innovation develop- ment and diffusion processes, with special refer- ence to Foray (2010) and Edquist (1997). The paper is based on the analysis of the experiences of two internationally financed projects to diffuse their innovations in Uzbekistan. The examples include the summary of four case studies on the innovations developed by a German-funded proj- ect on land and water use in Khorezm, Uzbekistan2 as well as an innovation developed by the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center in collaboration with a local research institute funded by the State Committee on Science and Technology Development (SCTST) of Uzbekistan. The four case studies included the following project innova- tions: (1) conservation agriculture (CA) for cotton and wheat in irrigated lowlands; (2) afforestation (AF) of marginal, highly saline lands; (3) a tool for rapid salinity assessment (SA -- EM 38) as well as (4) Indigoferra (IF) as alternative crop. The fifth case study assesses the successful introduction of a new Soya bean variety into the state registry for crop varieties.

Methodologically the study with an induc- tive case study approach (Eisenhardt, 1989) was designed to consider each innovation individually and to follow its individual path through the state bureaucracy of assessment, acceptance and its fur- ther diffusion. This was done with the purpose of finding out the existing channels of innovation diffusion within a complex state administration. The collected data nevertheless suggest to fur- ther ask whether these channels are complete and make up the innovation systems or not.

The findings of this study propose that the existing legal and institutional background for the implementation of innovations into practice is rather incomplete, not yet fully functioning, but the mechanisms to diffuse innovations are still on the way of being established. The legal basis for the national innovation systems is still in the process of development. As the coordinator of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project stated that they are given a task to develop a law project which would regulate innovation activities and their diffusion. This project's main task was to support the develop- ment of an Uzbek innovation system. This law is expected to be submitted by 2012 and its contri- bution to the establishment of innovation systems in Uzbekistan remains to be seen.

The main argument of this paper is that there is so-called 'knowledge ecology' to use Foray's (2010) term, since tightly interlinked innovation systems have not yet developed. Theoretically the sign of existing knowledge ecology is a positive one which indicates that there is basis for future innovation systems to be developed in Uzbekistan. This argu- ment is supported by the four case studies pre- sented as a summary in one of the sections later in this paper. These case studies are based on the experiences of our project innovations and their paths to their outscaling.3 Furthermore, we will also bring in another comparative case study of the path taken by the introduction of a new soya bean variety implemented by an international organiza- tion in collaboration with a local research institute.

The paper is structured in the following man- ner. We briefly describe the methodology and the data on which this paper is based on followed by an outline of the theoretical framework. Then we will introduce some of the powerful institutions and organisations relevant to the five innova- tions presented in the case studies. …

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