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Implementing agricultural living labs that renew actors’ roles within existing innovation systems: A case study in France

Abstract : Living Labs are developed in widely diverse innovation domains, based on principles of users involvement and experimentation in 'real-world' contexts, inviting to question the various actors' roles within innovation systems. In the agricultural sector, the implementation of Living Labs may face incumbent routines for experimentation, actors' relationships, and information circulation, as 'users' are mostly farmers already embedded in innovation systems. How, beyond adhesion to inclusiveness principles, the actual practices related to an agricultural Living Lab development make possible to renew or redistribute actors' roles in the innovation process? To address this issue, we realized a case study, following the development of an agricultural Living Lab in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region (France) by one year long immersion and participant observation. Our theoretical approach was to consider the Living Lab as a boundary object supposed to allow actors from different social worlds to work together in a new way, and relying on infrastructures in order to do so. We thus studied the intertwining between various rationales about the innovation model or the territory, the infrastructures on which the innovation process relied, and actors' roles construction. Our findings underline the divergent rationales conserved among the LIT's steering actors, associated with undefined roles, especially for farmers. We further show how these divergent rationales participated in maintaining existing infrastructures of the innovation system, preventing from effectively renewing actors' arrangements and respective roles. Among these, we describe the farmers' workshops, and the information sharing paths, both limiting the ownership of the process by non-incumbent actors. Complementarily to the distinctions of various roles in literature, we contribute to relate potentially neglected aspects of the Living Lab management (because not judged strategical) to the room for manoeuvre and possibilities for enactment of expected actors' roles. We finally discuss the relevant skills and their distribution among actors that our findings suggest for the development of an agricultural Living Lab within an existing innovation system.
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Contributor : Quentin Toffolini Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 11:25:20 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, February 26, 2022 - 3:03:47 AM

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Quentin Toffolini, Mathieu Capitaine, Mourad Hannachi, Marianne Cerf. Implementing agricultural living labs that renew actors’ roles within existing innovation systems: A case study in France. Journal of Rural Studies, Elsevier, 2021, 88, pp.157-168. ⟨10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.10.015⟩. ⟨hal-03412682⟩

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