Institutional change and innovation capacity: Contrasting experiences of promoting small-scale irrigation technology in South Asia | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1474-2748
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0551


The most effective approach to agricultural technology promotion and innovation is still a source of considerable debate, and nowhere more so than in the context of agricultural engineering hardware. Contemporary perspectives on agricultural innovation stress the importance of institutional change and give emphasis to the need to develop innovation capacity in systems terms, rather address limitations of technology transfer mechanisms. This paper illustrates using the case of manual irrigation technology treadle pumps in Bangladesh and India. It identifies five elements of this capacity: (1) a sector coordination mechanism; (2) a developmental rather than technical organising principle for sector development; (3) habits and practices (institutions) of key organisations; (4) interaction as a learning and knowledge transmission mechanism; (5) market demand as key incentive for innovation and (6) policies and institutional innovations to ensure adequate stakeholder participation. The paper concludes by suggesting that identifying new sources of institutional innovation is the most pressing task for initiatives that seek to make more effective use of knowledge and technology in development.


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