Felix Opola is a Kenyan PhD candidate at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. His research explores how the concept of inclusive innovation is understood and practised within the Kenyan agricultural sector. He is particularly interested in the discourses and social contexts that shape innovation processes and the resulting social impacts. Besides research, he enjoys interacting with people from different cultures.
Examining the Legitimacy of Inclusive Innovation in the Kenyan Agricultural Sector
The past few decades have witnessed an increased political and academic interest in innovation processes that are perceived to be aligned to the needs, interests and opportunities of individuals and organisations with little resource endowments such as smallholder farmers or actors in the informal sector. Such processes have broadly been referred to as inclusive innovation. However, it has been pointed out that processes such as innovation involve multiple actors with different interests and backgrounds and that the understanding of the problems being addressed and the subsequent solutions proposed and adopted will embody the interests of powerful and influential actors such as the state or research organisations. While such influential actors have the resources to drive inclusive innovation processes through various interventions, little is known about how legitimate these interventions are to those they are targeted at. Using the context of Kenyan agriculture, and the different actors involved in this sector, this paper examines the legitimacy of inclusive innovation interventions to smallholder farmers. Legitimacy is conceptualised as the perception that actions of an organisation, individual or entity are desirable or appropriate. Preliminary results indicate that while interventions by various actors are considered to be morally legitimate by smallholder farmers who trust the actors involved, the same interventions lack pragmatic legitimacy since they are not aligned to the needs and interests of the interests of farmers.
Affiliation: Wageningen University