This document, divided into three sections, develops a conceptual framework for a project on livestock fodder innovation – the Fodder Innovation Project (FIP). Livestock is important to the livelihoods of poor people in many regions of the developing world. A generic problem found across this diverse range of production and marketing contexts is the shortage of fodder. This paper argues that to address this problem it is necessary to frame the question of fodder shortage not from the perspective of information and technological scarcity, but from the perspective of capacity scarcity in relation to fodder innovation. To support this position the first section presents case studies of experience, from an earlier fodder innovation project, that suggest that while fodder technology is important, it is not enough. There is a large institutional dimension to bringing about innovation, particularly with respect to the effectiveness of networks and alliances needed to put technology into use. The second section begins by reviewing the evolving paradigms of agricultural research and innovation over the last 30 years or so and explains the emergence and relevance of the innovation systems concept to agricultural development. It then presents a framework for exploring fodder innovation capacity, with particular emphasis on the patterns of interaction needed for innovation and the policy and institutional settings needed to enable these processes. The third section reviews the wide range of existing tools available to investigate institutional change. It then recommends that an eclectic approach of mixing and matching tools to the emerging circumstances of the research is the best way forward.