SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION: AN ANALYSIS FROM A SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE IN AGRICULTURE
sosa alcaraz, mayanin
This study was carried out to examine how innovation can support sustainability and why these two concepts are important for agriculture. To do this, it was necessary to explore the meaning of sustainability and innovation for sustainability, the barriers and opportunities in building a local innovation system by identifying learning interactions, and the role of higher education institutions in achieving sustainability. Since there has been no empirical study of innovation and sustainability in agriculture from a bottom-up perspective, a qualitative case study with multi-methods approach was conducted. The field study took place in Yucatán, México, in the Conkal community over a period of three months in 2013. This research was comprised of in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in habanero chile farming to identify their perceptions, challenges, and the nature of their willingness and practice of innovation and sustainability. Both Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) and document analysis were used to complement the interview evidence. The results highlight the interpretations of sustainability principles (economic, ecological, and social) and the flow of knowledge and learning interactions that are occurring in the habanero chile product system. To increase innovation capacity, the integration of multiple local players is important to create local innovation systems that can also achieve sustainability principles. The study suggests that learning interactions and knowledge networks at the local level can be used to develop and disseminate technological and non-technological innovation for social, economic, and ecological improvement in farming. Such improvements should be supported by higher education institutions by generating, transferring, and applying ideas, resources, and programs to local communities. Higher education institutions should work towards the integration of various types of knowledge and increase engagement with local farming needs. However, the willingness and trust of individuals as well as the lack of leveraging opportunities to innovate for sustainability were perceived as barriers. The key contribution of this study is to highlight and promote how innovation systems at small scales can support sustainability that may lead to a quintuple helix model (one that integrates the following five components: university, government, industry, civil society, and natural environment). The most important aspect of this study is the suggestion that the integration of social, ecological, and economic goals in innovation systems can help shape an approach that can reorganize innovation for sustainability. Such suggestions are described in the results and discussion sections.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentSchool of Environment and Sustainability
ProgramEnvironment and Sustainability
CommitteeCoates, Kenneth; Noble, Bram; McKenzie, Marcia; Belcher, Ken
Copyright DateFebruary 2015