Formal rules and networks for technology diffusion in the context of plant disease epidemics: the case of small-scale producers of oil palm in Colombia

Bernal Hernández, Paloma (2019) Formal rules and networks for technology diffusion in the context of plant disease epidemics: the case of small-scale producers of oil palm in Colombia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (5MB)


In this research we specifically look at how top-down diffusion strategies are essential for producers to deal with these stress situations. The research investigates the diffusion of strategies introduced by technical experts through network relationships prompted by a plant disease epidemic in the Colombian oil palm agribusiness.
The thesis discusses how different pathways of technology diffusion emerge and are practiced in the context of top-down agricultural governance systems, and what the impacts of these pathways are in terms of the technology adoption of small-scale producers in developing agricultural clusters. The framework of this thesis draws upon three main bodies of literature: innovation diffusion, social capital and contract farming arrangements.
The main argument of the research is that despite high levels of top-down control, there is more than one way in which diffusion of codified practices occurs. Using three case studies in the Colombian oil palm agribusiness, the main findings are, first, that formal rules are a critical factor in the creation of two scenarios of diffusion: a diffusion pathway of governance dictated by dominant change agent control, and a diffusion pathway of governance dictated by change agent control and user participation. Second, short-term practices are introduced, regardless of the type of model, mainly through network links between agro-industrial firms and producers that underpin non-formal systems of relationships. Third, successful adoption of long-term practices occurs in scenarios with a broad distribution of functions among multiple key actors and producers. The adoption of long-term measurements is also significantly related to the following factors: the long term vision, the attachment to land and the engagement in collective action of rural farmers, and the long-term sustainability vision of agro-industrial firms regarding the integration of smallholders into agribusiness.
This thesis contributes to the innovation-diffusion literature by:
• extending the view that the current literature offers on centralised-diffusion systems;
• considering the influence of formal rules in the creation of multiple scenarios of diffusion and the effect of these rules, the nature of users and the interest of change agents in the adoption of short-term and long-term practices;
• highlighting the role of informal relationships in top-down relationships; and
• recognising the potential of network methods as an instrumental way to reflect types of governance centralised-diffusion systems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0094 America > HC0121 Latin America > HC0161 South America > HC0196 Columbia
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture > SB601 Pests and diseases > SB950 Pest control and treatment of diseases. Plant protection
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering > TD0194 Environmental effects of industries and plants > TD0195.A-Z Special industries, facilities, activities, etc., A-Z > TD0195.P36 Palm oil industry
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 28 May 2019 14:20
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 14:20

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update