This paper argues that impact assessment research has not made more of a difference because the measurement of the economic impact has poor diagnostic power. In particular it fails to provide research managers with critical institutional lessons concerning ways of improving research and innovation as a process. Our contention is that the linear input–output assumptions of economic assessment need to be complemented by an analytical framework that recognises systems of reflexive, learning interactions and their location in, and relationship with, their institutional context. The innovation systems framework is proposed as an approach where institutional learning is explicit. Three case studies of recent developments in international agricultural research are presented to illustrate these points. We conclude by suggesting that the innovation systems framework has much to offer research managers wishing to monitor and learn new ways of addressing goals such as poverty alleviation. The greatest challenge however, is that such holistic learning frameworks must contend for legitimacy if they are to complement the dominant paradigm of economic assessment.
Hall, A.J.; Rasheed Sulaiman, V.; Yoganand, B.; Clark, N.G. From measuring impact to learning institutional lessons: an innovation systems perspective on improving the management of international agricultural research. Agricultural Systems (2003) 78 (2) 213-241. [DOI: 10.1016/S0308-521X(03)00127-6]