Importance of Methodological
Diversity in Research and
Development Innovation Systems
Innovations in research and development (R&D) take place in diverse and complex human and natural landscapes that thrive within specific political, economic and institutional contexts. An innovation, as described in this paper, is neither a research product nor a technology, but rather an application of knowledge to achieve desired social, ecological or economic outcomes. This knowledge might be acquired through learning, research or experience, and may come from a variety of sources and actors, but until applied it can not be considered an innovation (Hall et al., 2004).
Human landscapes and innovation systems are also dynamic in nature. This is especially true of today’s globalized world, with its mobile populations, decentralizing governments and rapidly changing roles and rights. This dynamism manifests as a constantly changing mix of risks, opportunities and livelihood strategies (McDougall and Braun, 2003).
The challenges of this diversity, complexity and dynamism call for a corresponding diversity of R&D methods. The multi-faceted dimensions of communities and farmers’ needs, and the multiple demands on their precious time influence the choice of methods for situation analysis, technology development and resource management, negotiation, communication and farmer education. A wide range of methods, and of actors implementing them, allows for greater responsiveness, flexibility and fine-tuning to the context and needs of specific client groups.