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Group Title: Agricultural technology delivery system : a study of the transfer of agricultural and food-related technologies : executive summary
Title: The agricultural technology delivery system
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071935/00001
 Material Information
Title: The agricultural technology delivery system a study of the transfer of agricultural and food-related technologies : executive summary
Physical Description: 32 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Pennsylvania State University -- Institute for Policy Research and Evaluation
Feller, Irwin
Publisher: Institute for Policy Research and Evaluation, Pennsylvania State University
Place of Publication: University Park Pa
Publication Date: 1984
 Subjects
Subject: Agriculture -- Technology transfer -- United States   ( lcsh )
Food industry and trade -- Technology transfer -- United States   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Research -- Societies, etc -- United States   ( lcsh )
Agriculture and state -- United States   ( lcsh )
Food -- Research -- Societies, etc -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Irwin Feller ... et al..
General Note: "December 1984"--P. 4 of cover.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071935
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 13505683

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page i
        page ii
    Executive summary
        Page 1
        Introduction
            Page 1
            Page 2
        Methodology
            Page 3
            Page 4
            Page 5
        Limitations of the study
            Page 6
        Conceptual framework: Technology delivery and open systems
            Page 7
        Findings
            Page 8
            Research: Issues of coordination and direction
                Page 9
                Complexity
                    Page 9
                Planning and basic research
                    Page 10
                    Page 11
                    Page 12
                    Page 13
                    Page 14
                    Page 15
            Research/technology transfer linkages
                Page 16
                Page 17
                Page 18
                Page 19
                Page 20
            Human nutrition research and technology transfer
                Page 21
                Page 22
            Incorporation of the assessment of impacts into agricultural research and technology transfer
                Page 23
                Page 24
            Relationships between the public and private sectors in agricultural research and technology transfer
                Page 25
                Page 26
                Page 27
                Page 28
                Page 29
        Policy options for USDA-science and education
            Page 30
            Page 31
            Page 32
    Advisory panel/Project monitor/Observers
        Page 33
    Back Cover
        Back Cover
Full Text
01.380


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THE
AGRICULTURAL
TECHNOLOGY
DELIVERY
SYSTEM
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
FINDINGS,
POLICY ISSUES,
AND OPTIONS





PETER E. HILDEDRAND


THE
AGRICULTURAL
TECHNOLOGY

DELIVERY
SYSTEM
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
FINDINGS,
POLICY ISSUES,
AND OPTIONS






A Study of the
Transfer of Agricultural
and Food-Related
Technologies

by
Irwin Feller,
Lynne Kaltreider,
Patrick Madden,
Dan Moore,
and Laura Sims


































This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds'from
the Department of Agriculture, under Contract No. 53-32R6-1-55. The
contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or
policies of the Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade
names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the
U.S. Government.













EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


I. Introduction


The American system of public and private development and transfer

of agricultural and food technologies is complex, varied, and changing.

To assist public decision makers to adequately understand and assess the

agricultural technology delivery system, the U.S. Department of Agricul-

ture-Science and Education prepared a prospectus in 1981 for a study of

"The Transfer of Agricultural, Food, and Related Technologies." After a

competitive award process, the Institute for Policy Research and Evalua-

tion, The Pennsylvania State University, was selected to conduct the

study. An Advisory Panel composed of representatives from public

sector and private sector research and technology transfer organizations

provided technical assistance and an on-going critique during the course

of the study. (The members of the Advisory Panel are listed in Appendix

A.)

This executive summary presents the principal findings of the

Institute's study.2 The study addressed the following objectives:




The senior members of the study group were Dr. Irwin Feller
(Principal Investigator), Professor of Economics and Director, Institute
for Policy Research and Evaluation; Dr. J. Patrick Madden, Professor of
Agricultural Economics; Dr. Dan E. Moore, Associate Professor of Rural
Sociology Extension; Dr. Laura S. Sims, Associate Professor of Nutrition
in Public Health; and D. Lynne Kaltreider, Research Assistant, Institute
for Policy Research and Evaluation.

The full study report is presented in five volumes: Volume 1, A
Document-Based Review of Organizations and Their Linkages; Volume 2,
(Footnote Continued)













EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


I. Introduction


The American system of public and private development and transfer

of agricultural and food technologies is complex, varied, and changing.

To assist public decision makers to adequately understand and assess the

agricultural technology delivery system, the U.S. Department of Agricul-

ture-Science and Education prepared a prospectus in 1981 for a study of

"The Transfer of Agricultural, Food, and Related Technologies." After a

competitive award process, the Institute for Policy Research and Evalua-

tion, The Pennsylvania State University, was selected to conduct the

study. An Advisory Panel composed of representatives from public

sector and private sector research and technology transfer organizations

provided technical assistance and an on-going critique during the course

of the study. (The members of the Advisory Panel are listed in Appendix

A.)

This executive summary presents the principal findings of the

Institute's study.2 The study addressed the following objectives:




The senior members of the study group were Dr. Irwin Feller
(Principal Investigator), Professor of Economics and Director, Institute
for Policy Research and Evaluation; Dr. J. Patrick Madden, Professor of
Agricultural Economics; Dr. Dan E. Moore, Associate Professor of Rural
Sociology Extension; Dr. Laura S. Sims, Associate Professor of Nutrition
in Public Health; and D. Lynne Kaltreider, Research Assistant, Institute
for Policy Research and Evaluation.

The full study report is presented in five volumes: Volume 1, A
Document-Based Review of Organizations and Their Linkages; Volume 2,
(Footnote Continued)










1. Examine public and private sector influence on and support of
technology development and diffusion in agriculture, food, and
related areas where the private sector and the consumer are the
primary users of the new technology.

2. Delineate the roles, responsibilities, activities, and rela-
tionships among the variety of organizations--public and pri-
vate, federal and state, research and extension--involved in
the development and diffusion of food, agricultural, and
related technologies.

3. Analyze how this complex operates in relation to current
theoretical understandings of technological innovation and
diffusion and the ways in which governments can facilitate
technology transfer.

4. Examine the mechanisms that technology development and
diffusion organizations employ to: (1) avoid, detect, and
minimize negative consequences of technologies, and (2) detect
and capitalize on positive consequences.

5. Provide a foundation for guiding food and agricultural
technology policies, including intergovernmental policy.


The study's principal subjects are public sector organizations--the

Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Cooperative State Research

Service (CSRS), and the Extension Service (ES) within USDA, and the

state agricultural experiment stations (SAES) and the Cooperative Exten-

sion Services (CES) at 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities. It also

describes developments in other federal agencies, in state-supported




(Footnote Continued)
Surveys of Organizations and Their Linkages; and Research and Extension
in Human Nutrition, Food Science, and Home Economics; Volume 3, Review
of Previous Case Studies; Volume 4, Case Studies of Organizational
Linkages and Technology Transfer; Volume 5, Overall Study Report:
Findings and Recommendations. This executive summary draws principally
from Volume 5.
The materials reported on in each study segment underwent extensive
review. The commodity and process research subsystem chapters (Volume
1) were sent to knowledgeable individuals within each field, and the
chapters reporting on interviews in the survey states and in federal
organizations (Volume 2) were sent to a number of interviewees from each
site to check the accuracy of the factual components of the chapters.










universities and colleges, and in the private sector. It discusses the

myriad ways in which the activities of these organizations interact with

those of the USDA/land-grant sector.

The report emphasizes two aspects of the long-term contribution

that public sector organizations have made to agricultural productivity

and other societal goals: (1) their ability to comprise an articulated

technology delivery system, linking research with technology transfer;

and (2) their ability to adapt their activities to changing external

environments.


II. Methodology


The study employed four mutually supportive approaches to identify

and describe the organizations, programs, processes, and factors that

link developers, diffusers, and users of agricultural and food tech-

nologies with those that support technology development and transfer.

These four approaches were:

1. A document-based review of organizations and their linkages.

2. Surveys of organizations and their linkages.

3. A review of previous case studies of the development and
transfer of technologies.

4. New case studies of organizational linkages in technology
development and transfer.

The relationships among the study segments are illustrated in Figure 1.






The technologies selected for the six new case studies are:
(1) center pivot irrigation systems, (2) large round hay balers, (3) the
mechanical tomato harvester, (4) hybrid grain sorghum, (5) artificial
insemination, and (6) conservation tillage.












FIGURE 1


Interrelation of Study Segments and Study Products


Segment 1

Document-Based Review

"Mapping out" of the
organizations involved in
agricultural, food, and
related technologies


Segment 2

Survey of Organizational Linkages


0 Organizational Role Analyses
* Interorganizational Linkages














Analytical Framework:

O Technology Delivery System

o (Open) Systems Planning Approach




~T\


Segment 4

New Case Studies

* Technology/technology cluster
analysis through entire process
of development, diffusion, and
use.
o Identify developers, diffusers,
and users.
* Identify interrelationships
between actors in the system.


Segment 3

Case Study Review

Review, appraisal, analysis,
and synthesis of previous
studies of the transfer of
specific technologies or
technology clusters.












N^










The study included site interviews with federal officials, with

representatives of university systems in nine states, and with other

public institutions. At the federal level, interviews were conducted

with the officials and program leaders responsible for administering

research and cooperative extension programs within USDA and with program

officials in other federal agencies. The nine states (Alabama, Cali-

fornia, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Texas, South Carolina, Utah, and

Vermont) were selected in consultation with the Advisory Panel to give

coverage by census regions, by organizational characteristics of land-

grant university programs in research and extension, and by several

economic criteria. In each state, interviews were conducted with

"decision makers" within the research and extension organizations of

1862 and 1890 land-grant colleges of agriculture, and with a varying

number of researchers, extension specialists, and county agents. Two

hundred and eighty-five of these interviews were conducted. During the

state site visits, additional interviews also were conducted with ARS

researchers located at or nearby the land-grant campuses. In addition,

a telephone survey was conducted with persons involved in human nutri-

tion, home economics, and food science in the nine survey states.

Officials of firms involved in agricultural research and product

development were also interviewed. Firms were selected using two over-

lapping criteria: (1) their involvement in the development of one or

more of the new case study technologies (e.g., the large round hay

baler--Deere, Sperry-New Holland, Vermeer; hybrid grain sorghum--DeKalb,

Pioneer Hi-Bred), and (2) their combined visibility both in agricultural

research and in representing the views of the private sector at the

national level concerning the future course of agricultural science and










technology policies (e.g., Pioneer Hi-Bred, Monsanto, DuPont). This

approach led to a concentration on those firms typically regarded as the

"leaders" in their respective product lines, and those with larger

internal R&D programs than other firms within their respective indus-

tries. Additional interviews were conducted with farm equipment

distributors.


III. Limitations of the Study


The study's scope and methodology give it a wide coverage of the

agricultural technology delivery system. Still, the study has built-in

limitations. Its coverage is less global than indicated by the title of

the USDA study prospectus, as it covers essentially research and tech-

nology transfer oriented to agricultural production and human nutrition.

Its attention to research and technology transfer is not intended to

establish these activities as the only or necessarily most important

components of national or state policies concerning the food supply or

the economic and social well-being of American farmers and a world of

consumers. Important matters such as agricultural marketing and

resource economics lie beyond the scope of this study.

The study's focus on the research and technology transfer activi-

ties of public sector organizations does not constitute a complete

description of the missions, programs, or priorities of the organiza-

tions surveyed. The study's emphasis on the diversity and complexity of

the settings within which agricultural and human nutrition research and

technology transfer activities occur should serve as a built-in caution

against casual transfer of its general findings to specific settings.

Moreover, the breadth of the study's scope inevitably raises concern










over the "representativeness" of selected statements presented by inver-

viewees and used in this report to describe problems, trends, or

issues.


IV. Conceptual Framework: Technology Delivery and Open Systems


The study advances the concept of an agricultural technology

delivery system that encompasses the following activities: (1) the

delineation of research priorities, (2) the performance of various types

of research, (3) the conversion of research findings into economically

useful production practices and technologies, (4) the development of

ancillary information on the use of the practices and technologies that

accord with site-specific production settings, (5) the demonstration of

new research findings and new technologies to an initial set of users,

(6) the subsequent spread of the new practices to a larger set of users,

and (7) the iterative feedback of changes in research activities, adap-

tive modifications, and consequent changes in use patterns that follow

from use of the new practices.

Central to the context within which the findings of this study have

been analyzed is the open systems planning approach presented by Lipman-

Blumen and Schram. As noted by these authors:

A fundamental tenet of systems theory is interdependency. That is,
each component of the wider system affects and is influenced by
every other component. A "problem" or a dysfunction in one part is
a "message" to the whole system. A systems perspective suggests
that difficulty in any one component is a problem for the whole



This concern has been addressed at several places in the report,
first, by indicating the nature of the disagreement among alternative
perspectives; second, by recourse to other findings germane to the issue
in question; and third, by making clear throughout the study the type of
evidence upon which statements are based.









system. As in biological ecostructures, no unit is an "island" but
rather a reflection of the whole. Sub-units within any one organi-
zation, such as Extension, CSRS, or ARS (within USDA), may inter-
act, communicate, negotiate and establish territory. Adaptation is
the evolutionary response to environmental shifts, and likewise, in
systems5 a redefinition may occur to meet new environmental
inputs.


V. Findings


The principal findings of the study, briefly stated, are as

follows:

The American agricultural research and technology transfer
system is complex and diverse.

Trends within ARS and the SAES system are towards a greater use
of formal planning.

Trends within ARS and the SAES system are towards a more basic
research orientation.

The need to maintain articulated relationships among the stages
of the technology development process, and accordingly, between
"research" and "extension" organizations, is accentuated by the
move to a more basic research orientation.

Alternative performers of agricultural research and technology
transfer continue to emerge in both the public and private
sectors.

Performance and quality, perceived very differently by various
audiences and decision makers, affect resource allocation
decisions.

The political base for public sector research and technology
transfer continues to change, requiring officials increasingly
to "justify" as well as to "explain" the merits of the tradi-
tional system.

Change--in structure, leadership, and openness--permeates much
of the traditional public sector.






Jean Lipman-Blumen and Susan Schram (1983), The Paradox of Success
(USDA-Science and Education), p. v.









These findings are discussed more fully in the following sections:

(1) research--planning and coordination, (2) research/technology trans-

fer linkages, (3) human nutrition, (4) consideration of impacts, and

(5) public sector/private sector relationships. Although presented in

sections, the thrust of this study remains the interdependency of its

findings, and of changes (and policies) among the events.and organiza-

tions examined.


1. Research: Issues of Coordination and Direction


a. Complexity


For many general purposes, existing descriptions of the agricul-

tural technology delivery system's public sector component composed of

USDA (ARS, CSRS, ES) and the land-grant university system of state

agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension services pro-

vide a useful touchstone. Over time, however, these descriptions have

become increasingly less accurate in describing the many direct and

indirect ways in which interaction occurs among these and other compo-

nents of the agricultural technology delivery system. The research

system is far more open to both reinforcing and divergent pressures from

commodity growers, scientific associations, and state-level influences

than appears from more stylized descriptions. Similarly, the technology

transfer system is quite variegated in its forms and processes, as are

the ways in which research and technology transfer organizations inter-

act with one another.

This study documents the extent of the agricultural technology

delivery system's complexity and diversity. The system is complex in

its patterns of organizational cooperation and involvement; it is









These findings are discussed more fully in the following sections:

(1) research--planning and coordination, (2) research/technology trans-

fer linkages, (3) human nutrition, (4) consideration of impacts, and

(5) public sector/private sector relationships. Although presented in

sections, the thrust of this study remains the interdependency of its

findings, and of changes (and policies) among the events.and organiza-

tions examined.


1. Research: Issues of Coordination and Direction


a. Complexity


For many general purposes, existing descriptions of the agricul-

tural technology delivery system's public sector component composed of

USDA (ARS, CSRS, ES) and the land-grant university system of state

agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension services pro-

vide a useful touchstone. Over time, however, these descriptions have

become increasingly less accurate in describing the many direct and

indirect ways in which interaction occurs among these and other compo-

nents of the agricultural technology delivery system. The research

system is far more open to both reinforcing and divergent pressures from

commodity growers, scientific associations, and state-level influences

than appears from more stylized descriptions. Similarly, the technology

transfer system is quite variegated in its forms and processes, as are

the ways in which research and technology transfer organizations inter-

act with one another.

This study documents the extent of the agricultural technology

delivery system's complexity and diversity. The system is complex in

its patterns of organizational cooperation and involvement; it is









diverse in that those patterns vary from one setting to another. It

also is complex in the number of organizations that fund and/or perform

some aspect of research, development, or technology transfer. Specifi-

cally, the agricultural technology delivery system cuts across three

sectors: (1) the public sector, (2) the private sector, and (3) a third

sector, which includes scientific associations, nonprofit institutions,

and coordinating, advisory, lobbying, and educational organizations

(Figure 2). The organizational linkages among and within these sectors

were found to vary by commodity subsystem, such as dairy, cotton, and

vegetables.

Graphic examples of different conceptualizations of the U.S. agri-

cultural research system are provided in Figures 3 and 4. Figure 3 sug-

gests a co-equal rather than a hierarchical relationship between the

federal and state components of the public sector, as well as other

common points of interest. It includes other research organizations as

well as organizations that speak on behalf of both agricultural research

and the research capabilities of their respective members. Figure 4

provides a somewhat different conceptualization of the system. Figure 4

is included to illustrate that (1) the system can be viewed from more

than one perspective, and (2) an entirely different perspective (in this

case, a commodity orientation) produces a conceptualization equally as

complex as that in Figure 3.


b. Planning and Basic Research


The fuller accounting of interorganizational complexity and inter-

action used in this study suggests that discussions of the need for











FIGURE 2

A General Guide to the Sectors and Types of Organizations Involved in the Agricultural Research and

Technology Transfer System (Linkages Among Sectors and Organizations Not Shown)

THE PRIVATE SECTOR ITHE THIRD SECTOR THE PUBLIC SECTO

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FIGURE 3

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planning and coordination in the establishment of research priorities

are valid in the sense that the multiple influences on the system and

the multiple points at which decisions are made have the potential to

produce fragmented behavior. On the other hand, by not adequately con-

sidering the multiple sources of influence on research priorities, such

discussions are unrealistic concerning the degree of coordination that

can be exercised by USDA or any other federal agency. Earlier treat-

ments also tend to overlook the degree of coordination already generated

by the direct and indirect communication among the constituent organiza-

tions and their iterative accommodations to one another and to common

external influences.

The complexity of the agricultural research system also raises

questions concerning the operational content of USDA's leadership role

in the federal-state system. The study suggests limitations in USDA-

S&E's ability to lead or to coordinate the activities of the state

system outside of direct control over its own laboratories and personnel

and control over federal pass-through funds.

This study reports on trends within ARS and the SAES system towards

a more basic research orientation and greater use of formal planning.

This is clearly apparent in ARS's Six-Year Plan, but also is found in

the movement towards more formal planning in several of the state agri-

cultural research systems surveyed.

The commitment towards planning and towards a basic research orien-

tation by the land-grant universities reflects influences quite indepen-

dent of considerations at the federal level and those voiced in General

Accounting Office and related reports. It reflects the views of

research administrators and faculty in colleges of agriculture that









scientific advances have opened new possibilities of generating basic

knowledge relevant to agriculture and that land-grant university person-

nel must be included in such research, both to maintain standing among

their disciplinary peers or institutional rivals and to serve the needs

of the producers in their state. The move towards planning also

reflects the infusion of new leaders, recruited both from within and

without the experiment station and cooperative extension system, some of

whom have had prior experience with planning. More generally, the com-

mitment towards this activity reflects the fact that planning has perme-

ated administrative circles in a wide variety of public and not-for-

profit organizations.

The independent adoption of more formal planning procedures in both

ARS and the SAES system suggests that coordination and planning between

USDA and the SAES system are less critical issues today than in the

past. The system is "linked together" in the openness and the frequency

of interaction between the federal and state organizations and in the

openness of the various state systems to multiple but common influences.

The study also suggests that planning is not a frictionless activity,

but one that at times creates new difficulties within ARS and the SAES

system, between them, and between the experiment stations and the

private sector.

In spite of the recent thrust towards more disciplinary or basic

research, there remains both within ARS and the SAES system, a commit-

ment to the concept of problem-solving or targeted research. That is,

the increased commitment to basic research is justified in terms of its

promise of ultimate application to improving agricultural production and

human nutrition.









As a consequence of the actions taken by ARS and the SAESs, there

appears a renewed credibility to the agricultural research community's

contention that agricultural research is a mission-oriented undertaking,

and that it is necessary to programmatically and organizationally link

disciplinary or "basic" research with more applied research undertakings

and with technology transfer activities.


2. Research/Technology Transfer Linkages


Maintenance of an articulated set of relationships between the

research and the technology transfer-related components of the overall

agricultural technology delivery system requires that organizations

adjust their activities to fit (1) changes in their respective external

environments (e.g., clientele demands, scientific advances), and

(2) changes in the activities of other organizations in the overall

system.

In particular, the futures of public sector research and extension

organizations are interconnected. Unless changes are made to maintain

strong links between research and technology transfer components, it is

likely that both segments (and associated organizations) will suffer.

Public sector research organizations will suffer, for example, if basic

research activities are emphasized to the detriment of the more client-

oriented applied research needed to justify continuing levels of public

and political support. The debates of the 1960s and early 1970s con-

cerning the public return from its investment in R&D clearly demonstrate

that mission-oriented research must be linked to research utilization/

technology transfer programs to maintain continuing public support.

Although public funding to support basic research in agricultural









biotechnology can at present be justified in terms of "science" alone,

past experience suggests that potential "pay-off" is never absent from

the executive or congressional bottom-line. For its part, without links

to new research, the technology transfer component will suffer because

of accelerated obsolescence, which erodes the productivity of the

information and technical assistance it offers.

The increasingly basic research orientation of public sector

organizations is a new pull on the maintenance of articulated links

among the stages (and organizations) in the agricultural technology

delivery process. Although the study's description of recent changes in

the research orientation of ARS and the SAES system highlights the need

to maintain articulation among components of the system, it notes that

it is not the surge of interest in basic research alone that creates

this situation. Agricultural researchers, extension administrators and

personnel, private industry representatives, and observers of the evolu-

tion of agricultural research and extension organizations have identi-

fied many factors that have served to blur traditional roles and

relationships. These factors include: (1) the increased technical

complexity of agricultural production, (2) the increased importance of

large-scale farms operated by technically-trained managers, and (3) the

increased number of private sector suppliers of technical information.

Interactions among the changing characteristics of producers, the

technical orientation of research and extension personnel, the nature of

the technologies being developed, and the R&D intensity of agriculture

in a particular region are too numerous to prescriptively identify and

assign responsibilities to in this changing situation. The study

reveals very dissimilar services being performed by agricultural county









agents, specialists, and researchers across the country, with each

reported as suitably serving the needs of producers in a particular

region.

Interviews with persons both within and outside the land-grant

universities do suggest, however, that farmers and other clients are

turning increasingly to extension specialists and researchers at the

land-grant university instead of to county agents for answers to agri-

cultural technology problems because of the increasing complexity of

agriculture. In virtually every state, there was concern about the

mechanisms that draw research and extension together.

The keystone to this concern appeared to be the role of the exten-

sion specialist. In those land-grant systems that pride themselves on

basic research, we observed that the extension specialists were more

likely to find themselves in the role of applied researchers. The

specialists were heavily influenced by academic standards including

publication of research results in refereed journals. The specialists

and their administrators viewed such publications as important for

promotion and tenure decisions. In other states, extension specialists

served essentially as technical consultants to both agents and produc-

ers, heavily taking on service roles, e.g., drafting drawings of irriga-

tion systems. They transmitted already known state-of-the-art knowl-

edge; they were only marginally involved either in their own research

problems or in disseminating emerging findings.

These and other changes in the underlying knowledge basis for

agricultural production also are affecting the roles of county agricul-

tural agents. Many of the functions traditionally associated with the

county agent are performed by producers themselves (or by staff within










corporate farms) as the producers' own educational level enables them to

search out information from multiple sources including the university,

trade associations, commercial vendors, and other components of the

private sector. At the same time that the county agricultural agent is

under pressure to remain technologically sophisticated, a variety of

other pressures exist concerning the agent's roles that derive from

clientele and extension missions that may lie outside the agent's tradi-

tional agricultural technology transfer role.

Our surveys served largely to confirm traditional verities concern-

ing the functions of county agents: agents transferring and interpret-

ing to growers the most recent findings from their experiment stations;

agents passing on to researchers questions arising from producers con-

cerning whether local veterinarians are following the most modern proce-

dures; agents helping to organize trips to farms in neighboring states

where practices dismissed as impractical by experiment station research-

ers in their own states are in productive employment; agents assisting

researchers to obtain the cooperation of producers in field tests;

agents organizing field days at which specialists and researchers

present or demonstrate their latest findings; and agents undertaking

their own research projects in order, among many reasons, to adapt more

general findings to local needs or to address problems not being

addressed by researchers elsewhere.

Also identified were several less visible roles for county agents--

serving as an informal technology transfer link between growers and ARS

researchers at field laboratories; serving as a link between commodity

marketing order boards and university researchers in defining projects

that combine scientific interest and commodity-specific relevance; and










serving as an "objective" reference when producers seek confirmation of

information provided to them by salespeople or private consultants.

Aggregated, these activities highlight how extension has contributed to

increases in agricultural productivity.

Researchers, extension specialists, and county agents continue to

perform at times in quite traditional ways. But relationships among the

actors also have changed in many different ways in response to changes

in the characteristics of agricultural production technologies and in

the structure of agriculture. In some states these changes involve a

repositioning of the functional activities of each of the actors. In

these states, as researchers have moved towards a more basic research

orientation, extension specialists and county agents have moved into de

facto problem-focused research.

Other arrangements used in various states to achieve articulation

between researchers and extension activities include joint research/

extension appointments and organizational strategies such as regional

centers housing research and extension personnel. In such regional

centers, the extension specialist has access to ongoing research, while

the researcher is kept aware of multiple growing conditions for which

specific research findings may be needed; the system can then communi-

cate these findings to county agents. The intent is to link research

and technology transfer activities in reaching producers and to remove

administrative barriers that segment research and extension activities.

Clearly there are many combinations within these archetypes.

Again, given the diversity of agriculture across the country and the

many different historical patterns concerning roles and relationships,

it is not possible to say where individual systems will locate










themselves on any sort of continuum or where a total system positions

itself. Nor is it apparent that an organizational strategy that has

evolved successfully in one state's cultural, political, and natural

environment would succeed in other states.


3. Human Nutrition Research and Technology Transfer


Several organizational patterns, some reported on in earlier

studies, some identified in this study, hamper linkages between research

and technology transfer in the field of human nutrition. Moreover,

recent changes in the research orientation of ARS, while planned

responses to influential criticisms, may have the effect of further

attenuating ties between the priorities of human nutrition researchers

and those involved in developing programs based on new research findings

or in educating consumers and households about human nutrition. Final-

ly, the combination of pre-existing patterns of relative federal agency

roles in the support of human nutrition research, the organizational

difficulties of linking research and technology transfer across several

units, and the recurrent if muted issue of the priorities attached to

human nutrition research within the SAES system point to the formidable

task facing USDA if it seeks to establish itself as a more important,

and indeed, the lead federal agency in the field of human nutrition.

Earlier studies contain convergent findings concerning the frag-

mentation of support for human nutrition research among and within

federal agencies. In general, allowing for reservations concerning the

comparability of data across agencies, the Department of Health and

Human Services, through the National Institutes of Health, supports

approximately 3 times as much research on human nutrition as does USDA.










Within USDA, the responsibility for research, extension, and information

on human nutrition is widely distributed. Intra- and inter-agency

coordinating committees exist, but their influence on programmatic

priorities is unclear. More pointedly, based on interviews with partic-

ipants in other parts of the system, it is not apparent that existing

mechanisms would be sufficiently effective to support a larger (and more

assertive) USDA role in human nutrition. During the course of this

study, efforts were underway within USDA both to increase the importance

attached to human nutrition research, and to redirect this research

towards more basic research questions.

This study finds serious gaps in the chain connecting researchers,

extension specialists, and county agents in the field of human nutri-

tion. Part of this lack of connectedness relates to the heterogeneity

in the field of human nutrition itself (e.g., food science, human nutri-

tion, home economics), which is compounded by variegated responsibili-

ties and arrangements for organizing human nutrition research, tech-

nology transfer, and educational programs in the land-grant universi-

ties. Further serving to loosen ties among the components are the

limited funds, as perceived by researchers in human nutrition, available

to them through the state experiment stations or through USDA, which

leads them to seek support from other federal agencies. The lower ratio

of nutrition specialists to county agents relative to agriculture is

perceived to limit the two-way communication of research findings and

research needs between extension specialists and county agents.

These existing difficulties are likely to be compounded by recent

changes in the research orientation of ARS and the SAES. Changes in the

research priorities of ARS and the SAES system may be appropriate both










in terms of the long-term potential benefits of the scientific findings

they produce and as useful responses to external critics concerning the

character of the research performed by the traditional public sector

organizations. They may, however, in the short run at least, aggravate

the difficulties that applied researchers, specialists, and county

agents have in responding to the programmatic needs of their clients.

This prospect clearly is not what is sought by ARS, which has

assigned high priority to human nutrition research in its new plan.

Recognition of this potential problem is apparent in a series of studies

recently funded by ARS and CES concerning the flow of information

between researchers and extension personnel. Over time, however, it is

likely that a more effective integration of research findings into the

programmatic activities of cooperative extension will require changes in

the organization of human nutrition/home economics/food science programs

on university campuses.


4. Incorporation of the Assessment of Impacts into Agricultural
Research and Technology Transfer


The study included interviews with representatives of various

public interest groups, who, in some instances, have widely different

perspectives and assessments of the system from those articulated by

participants in the agricultural R&D system. Not all of the representa-

tives of public interest groups interviewed were critical of the system,

but the vast majority were. Common themes recurred. Many view the pri-

mary clientele of the system as wealthy farmers, agribusiness chemical

and machinery corporations, and other nonfarm interests, who, according

to this group of critics, are able to exert strong leverage on the

mission and priorities of the system. Furthermore, it is alleged that










researchers develop a vested interest in ignoring the ecological impacts

of toxic chemicals, and that no incentive exists within the system for

researchers to find economically and environmentally sound methods of

conserving and enhancing the productivity of the nation's natural and

human resources.

According to some public interest groups, cooperative extension,

and the land-grant system in general, have led farmers into a highly

energy-intensive technology, encouraging gross overproduction of certain

crops, leading to regional specialization and regional dependency. Per-

haps the most severe criticism encountered was that extension pretends

to be the friend of all the farmers, but in reality it is contributing

to the demise of many: by enhancing the competitive position of larger

farms, it undermines the smaller ones; by encouraging all to use highly

capital-intensive methods, extension becomes an advocate of technology

that is inappropriate and financially ruinous for many of the smaller

farms.

The problem of reconciling differences among diverse groups of per-

sons with diametrically opposite positions on policy issues is extremely

complex, involving clusters of beliefs, priorities, and goals.

Mechanisms used to reconcile conflicts regarding agricultural

research and extension priorities and methods include lawsuits, publica-

tions by critics, the political process, recruitment policies, public

policy education, and advocacy by professionals within the system.

Interviews with research administrators, researchers, and extension

personnel suggest that priorities and programs are being changed. The

interviews suggest a recent increase in attention to production tech-

niques that promote a more sustainable agriculture and reduce










environmental damage. This trend is most clearly seen in the growing

research interest in conservation tillage and integrated pest manage-

ment. Again, chains of influence are difficult to detect. Enhancement

of research interest in these techniques is as readily explainable in

terms of desire for more profitable farming methods (in view of rising

energy prices and declining effectiveness of pesticides) as in concern

over, or submission to, the agendas of public interest groups.

The traditional pattern of interaction between county agents and

clients also may serve to heighten interest within extension (and thus,

indirectly, within the research community) toward a broadening set of

impacts. It has been suggested that the questions asked by "back-to-

the-land" small farmers and home gardeners differ from those asked by

extension's more commercially oriented clientele, and that these ques-

tions have induced extension personnel to seek out information compati-

ble with the "regenerative agricultural perspectives" of these clients,

and to publish this information in popular publications that cater to

this audience.

Some observers also see the new emphasis on accountability and

evaluation within ES and CES as serving to lead it toward giving

increased consideration to the social consequences of its work.


5. Relationships Between the Public and Private Sectors in Agricultural
Research and Technology Transfer


Relationships between the public and private sectors in agricul-

tural research and technology transfer are changing. Two obvious recent

changes in public sector/private sector relations have been in the

funding of research and in the character of the incentives for private

sector research. The trend has been towards an increase in the relative










role of the private sector, which is variously estimated to account for

about 65 percent of all agricultural research. Changes in property

rights also have affected public sector/private sector relationships.

The Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 and the 1980 Supreme Court

decision in Diamond v. Chakrabarty on the patentability of micro-

organisms have expanded the domains of knowledge over which property

rights can be established.

The patterns of relationships between the public sector and the

private sector are varied and intricate, a product of the evolution of

relationships between organizations and individuals that reflect legal,

political, economic, and personal ties. This complex pattern is inter-

woven by the range of specific technologies--seeds, fertilizers,

harvesting equipment--as well as "farm practices," "know-how," or

agronomicc information" included within the broad concept of agricul-

tural production techniques. There is a paucity of analytical treat-

ments as to what these patterns include except for generalizations on

roles in research fields. There are few studies that describe the

institutional character of the relationships between the public/private

sectors.

Existing paradigms of the respective roles of the two sectors,

while valid under certain prespecified conditions, do not capture the

changing relationships between the sectors. For example, our case

studies illustrate that vast changes in roles occur during the techno-

logical and economic life cycle of specific technologies. Changes in the

commitments of private industry to research and technology transfer are

likely now to move what are already blurred boundary markers concerning

relative roles.










Industry has increased its total commitment to agricultural

research, and in the case of some large firms has demonstrated its will-

ingness to invest in basic research activities of a type and scale that

formerly were undertaken only by the public sector. Firms also appear

to be increasing the scale of their technology transfer activities. In

particular, firms that have invested in basic research in seeking to

fully develop the markets for their activities will engage in technology

transfer activities commonly associated with the activities of the

public sector. New firms specializing in agricultural information

services also are appearing.

It is unclear at present which sector has the better mix of incen-

tives or organizational characteristics for performing either in the

aggregate or for various fields, be these broad classifications such as

animal or plant agriculture, commodities, or even different product

lines. Lacking any certainty as to the roles of the public and private

sectors, it is difficult to track through their future relationships.

Multiple points of connection seem probable, some reflecting delineation

of activities according to property rights or market size, others relat-

ing to the differential competencies of organizations, and yet others

relating to political or idiosyncratic factors.

Interviews with private firms and at land-grant universities point

to considerable differences in the views held by each sector concerning

which is the organizationally superior performer of basic research in

biotechnology. Again drawing mainly on interviews with the larger, R&D-

intensive firms, industry believes it is better situated to support and

maintain long-term basic research programs because (1) it is better able

to pull together the interdisciplinary teams needed to develop an










integrated research and technology delivery activity, and (2) it is able

to have a longer term perspective, not being constrained by the need

that university researchers have for publishable short-term results to

satisfy promotion and tenure committees.

Based on interviews with those land-grant institutions that have

already established a biotechnology capability, universities see them-

selves as having this long-term research capability. They are aware of

industry's current commitments and of the statements of industrial

leaders concerning their basic research capabilities, but they remain

skeptical as to whether the 8- to 10-year commitments can, in fact, be

maintained within the private sector before bottom line, short-term,

market-driven imperatives take over. Interviews with industry trade

association representatives provide some support for this skepticism,

suggesting that some major firms are already beginning to comprehend the

level of effort needed to surmount basic research questions, and accord-

ingly, are pulling back somewhat on their support of basic research or

are quickly channeling their research efforts to a smaller number of

commercially promising lines of inquiry.

The anomaly at present is that amidst this uncertainty concerning

relative roles, one can point to certain problems generic to the

activities of both sectors. Neither sector seems to have fully worked

through the question of the product development/technology transfer

aspects of biotechnology research. In the private sector, the emphasis

on basic research appears so strong and the findings to this point so

few that considerations of product development and commercialization are

premature. In the land-grant sector, the division between research

activities and extension appears as an organizational convenience for










not anticipating the changes in the roles of researcher, specialist, or

county agent that may be required to use biotechnological innovations

commercially.

At the federal level a similar question exists. ARS is simultane-

ously trying to strengthen its basic research capability and beginning

to consider an expanded technology transfer role, in part in response to

the provisions of the Stevenson-Wydler Act and in part in response to

recurrent congressional pressures on ARS to demonstrate the transfera-

bility and applicability of its research findings.

Most analytical and policy discussions concerning the relative

roles of the public and private sectors in the agricultural technology

delivery system relate to research. But the more significant changes in

relative sector roles may be occurring at the technology transfer/infor-

mation dissemination stages. The role of the intermediaries between the

manufacturer and the farmer is perhaps the least frequently examined of

all the relationships in the agricultural research/technology transfer

system. The emergence of feed, seed, fertilizer, and machinery salesmen

or representatives as suppliers of technical information to farmers, as

alternatives to cooperative extension, has already been noted. The

study suggests that the private sector supply of technical information

is becoming more prevalent, but it is not possible from this study alone

to test its relative importance.

This lack of a "baseline" prevents highly precise statements con-

cerning the rate or magnitude of change. It seems apparent, however,

both from industries' descriptions of their activities and from accounts

of what they are beginning to do, that industry is more actively

involved in communicating directly with producers concerning the










characteristics of their products, not simply in promotional material

that emphasizes static performance specifications, but also the outcomes

that can be expected from use of their product under alternative

production conditions. It appears that those firms that emphasize the

innovative, or R&D-intensive, characteristics of their products are

"coupling" or "bundling" a product package in which they sell both the

core technologies, e.g., the seed or the herbicide, and information con-

cerning the best uses of the product. From the manufacturer's perspec-

tive, provision of technical information is a necessary complement to

selling the new technology. The success of such products in the market

suggests that a market for information exists and that once suppliers

have organized the market, buyers are willing to pay the requisite

price. In this respect, the information that industry is offering

begins to resemble that traditionally supplied through the SAES-CES

system. It represents a situation in which there has been a privatiza-

tion of what formerly was publicly supplied knowledge.


VI. Policy Options for USDA-Science and Education


The study outlines three broad approaches to the future activities

of USDA-Science and Education. These options are presented as a frame-

work within which the long-term programmatic effectiveness and political

viability of current incremental changes by separate agencies can be

considered. Presentation of these options reflects our view that con-

tinuing systemic changes exist within which public sector agricultural

research and technology transfer organizations function, and that these

changes--principally the concentration of production in fewer and larger

units, the increased level of technical sophistication on the part of










producers, the increased level of private sector activity in both

research and technology transfer, and the emergence of alternative

public sector performers of agricultural research--cannot be satisfac-

torily responded to by incremental responses to specific criticisms or

challenges alone.

For simplicity we have labeled these approaches: maintenance,

incremental change, and fundamental change. Option 1, Maintenance,

implies no major change in the trends observed in the level and type of

activity performed by the agencies in the public sector of the agricul-

tural technology delivery system. Where recent trends have occurred,

Option 1 assumes these trends will continue. Option 2, Incremental

Change, implies a modest increase in the public sector's level of

activity, and moderate changes in the organizational linkages and

mandates of the various agencies. For example, we assume under Option 2

that existing public organizations will continue to exist. Option 3,

which we call Fundamental Change, describes major departures from the

current system. The implications of each of these options for each of

the research and extension agencies within USDA-S&E, i.e., ARS, CSRS,

and ES, are discussed in Volume 5.

Permeating our discussion of the three options is the theme of an

integrated technology delivery system in which specific organizations

perform separate but linked roles. Paramount to any consideration of

the feasibility or desirability of these options is an organizationally

effective means of analyzing these options and presenting the case for

specific recommendations. Probably the single most important organiza-

tional issue within the study is the need for an integrative perspective

and voice within USDA, first, to organize its own activities, and then










to work with other organizations, starting with the land-grant univer-

sity system and other federal agencies, in identifying how changes in

each sector impact upon one another.

Another underlying theme of this study is the need for a restate-

ment of the social benefits of the activities performed by publicly-

supported agricultural research and technology transfer organizations.

While deriving from past performance, this restatement must be rooted in

the fundamental concepts of the unique role of public sector organiza-

tions; the necessity for maintaining high degrees of programmatic

articulation among basic research, applied research, adaptive or

developmental research, demonstration and dissemination; and the rela-

tive efficiencies of specific public sector organizations. It must be

grounded in an analysis of public sector/private sector relationships

that considers the two as joint actors, each having specific character-

istics and specific domains, but as shown in the case studies, with high

degrees of complementarity between their activities.











APPENDIX A



Advisory Panel


Nancy Belck
David Dyer

Gary Evans


J. D. Eveland
C. Dennis Ignasias


Patrick Jordan
Leo Lucas


Lynn Maish


Arland W. Pauli
William Presnal

Paul Putnam

Thomas N. Shiflet
Janet E. Tenney


Dean of Home Economics, University of Tennessee
U. S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and
Forestry
Coordinator, Natural Resources and Forestry,
Cooperative State Research Service
Innovation Processes Research, National Science Foundation
Assistant Dean, School of Agriculture Sciences,
University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
Administrator, Cooperative State Research Service
Director of Cooperative Extension, University of
Nebraska at Lincoln
Program Analyst, Office of Budget and Program Analysis,
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Product and Market Planning, Deere & Company
Vice Chancellor for State Affairs, The Texas A&M
University System
Area Director, Central Plains Area, National Animal
Disease Center, Ames, Iowa
Director of Ecological Sciences, Soil Conservation Service
Coordinator of Nutrition Programs, Giant Foods, Inc.


Project Monitor


Claude Bennett


Evaluation Specialist, Extension Service


Observers


John Bottum
Barbara Fontana
Denzil Clegg
Mitchell Geasler


James Halpin


James Hall
John Victor
Gerald Welsh


Deputy Administrator, Extension Service
National Governors' Association
Associate Administrator, Extension Service
Director of Cooperative Extension Service,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Director-at-Large, Southern Region, Experiment Station
Committee on Organization and Policy
Technology Transfer Staff, Agricultural Research Service
Budget Division, Agricultural Research Service
Research Coordinator, Soil Conservation Service















































Institute for Policy Research and Evaluation
The Pennsylvania State University
December 1984




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