This paper looks at brokerage functions in a project on building innovation capacity through improved networking. Innovation capacity influences how actors respond to changes in their environments. In such dynamic environments well connected sets of actors are at an advantage in that they can combine skills to address the emerging opportunities and challenges. However, policy and cultural barriers especially in African innovation systems raise the transaction costs of networking leading to weak connectivity among actors thus poor innovation capacity. This paper uses case studies from West Africa to illustrate that actors that play brokerage functions are critical in navigating around or dismantling the barriers and thus enhance innovation capacity. This paper assumes that innovation capacity rather than innovations per se is lacking in African agriculture. The paper is a product of an action research based study of Key Partner Organizations and the coalitions of stakeholders they formed around fodder innovation themes in Nigeria. We show that brokerage negotiates innovation barriers and improve networking. The paper concludes that brokerage roles are context-specific; policies that facilitate eclectic brokerage functions are critical. This paper is shedding light on the broadened scope for actors playing boundary roles, e.g. extension organizations under more relaxed organizational and policy contexts. There are few studies on brokerage and boundary work particularly in African agriculture. This study is a grounded discussion on the brokering functions in African rural development. It uses data from similar programmes to qualify observations and conclusions from the Fodder Innovation Project (FIP) case study.
Madzudzo, E. Role of Brokerage in Evolving Innovation Systems: A Case of the Fodder Innovation Project in Nigeria. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension (2011) 17 (2) 195-210. [DOI: 10.1080/1389224X.2011.544459]