Title Page
 Comments about multidisciplinary...

Title: Comments about multidisciplinary team efforts
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00075677/00001
 Material Information
Title: Comments about multidisciplinary team efforts
Physical Description: 5 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E
Publication Date: 1978
Subject: Agriculture -- Research   ( lcsh )
Agricultural innovations   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaf 5).
Statement of Responsibility: Peter E. Hildebrand.
General Note: "This paper originally appeared as an appendix to Peter E. Hildebrand "Motivating Small Farmers to Accept Change," paper for the conference on Integrated Crop and Animal Production to Optimize Resource Utlization on Small Farms in Developing Countries, Bellagio, October 18-23, 1978. The references are thos of the original paper."
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: At head of title: Rapid Rural Appraisal: a conference held at the Institute of Development Studies 4-7 December 1979.
General Note: Typescript.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00075677
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 77008955

Table of Contents
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        Title Page
    Comments about multidisciplinary team efforts
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        Page 5
Full Text



A conference held at the Institute of Development Studies

4-7 December 1979


Peter E. Hildebrand

F-This paper originally appeared as an appendix to
Peter E. Hildebrand "Motivating Small Farmers to
Accept Change", paper for the conference on
Integrated Crop and Animal Production to Optimize
Resource Utilization on Small Farms in Developing
Countries, Bellagio,. October 18-23, 1978. The
references are those of the original paper 7

University of Sussex

- 1 -


Individual and some collective action is being taken to bridge the

differences generated by traditional scientific training in order to facil-

itate multidisciplinary efforts, Examples with which the author has had

recent contact follow. Christine Gladwin is an agricultural economist who

uses a methodology much more akin to anthropology than economics; Richard

Harwood, an agronomist, found:'it necessary to combine his field with eco-

nomics and sociology in order to bring acceptable rice technology to parts

of Asia; Robert Werge is an anthropologist who is working in the field

of agronomy to help the International Potato Center develop technology for

this crop; and Daniel Gait, an agricultural economist is actively engaged

in crop trials in Honduras. Examples of their work are listed in the ref-


All of the above researchers have two things in common that are

critical to the development of an efficient and functioning multidisci-

plinary team. They are well trained in their own fields, but they also

have a working understanding of and are not afraid to make contributions

in one or more other fields. This is a necessary characteristic of per!

sons working on multidisciplinary teams, But alone, it is not sufficient.

It is also required that the team members not feel the need to defend

themselves and their field from intrusion of others.

- 2 -

Another feature of a successful multidisciplinary team is that all

members view the final product as a joint effort in which all participate

and for which all are equally responsible. That means each of them must

be satisfied with the product, given the goals of the team, and willing

and able to defend it.

Returning to the generation of improved technology for small, tra-

ditional farmers, the team members must all be product oriented (not just
the agronomists). Also, all the team members must be willing to con-

sider a wide range of variables and constraints and not leave these worries

only to the anthropologists or sociologists. Third, all members must be

willing to spend some desk time considering alternatives and their conse-

quences on the clients' goals and not leave this part of the task just to

the economists. The agronomists should be capable and willing to criticize

the economic or social aspects of the work, and the social scientists, the

agronomic aspects. In turn, these criticisms should be used to improve

the product so that all can be satisfied with the final result.

Failures of multidisciplinary efforts frequently have resulted be-

cause the teams were organized more as committees that met occasionally

to "coordinate" efforts, but in which the crop work was left to the agron-o

omists, the survey to the anthropologists and the desks to the economists.

In these cases there is not a single identified product, rather, several

products or reports purported to be concerned about the same problem.

1/ Product, as used here, refers primarily to the technology produced and
not the commodity, itself.

- 3 -

Perhaps the most critical characteristic required to achieve success of a

multidisciplinary team is dntification -with 'Ti nIe'prodE~ i"f' f~cIi"

2i ,gp.p.Bat9 The product can be complex, and involve a number of

facets, but it should result from the joint effort of the whole team and

not contain strictly identifiable parts attributable to individual team


In ICTA, the agronomists (who outnumber the social scientists

by about 30 to 1) are concerned about there being too much influence by

the socio-economic group in the work at the farm level. This is manifest

in a certain resistance by the agronomists to identify too closely with

the farmers (even with those on whose land they conduct trials). It also

surfaces with respect to evaluation of technology. The agronomist is

much-more comfortable if a final elvuation follows the farm trial phase

of the work where it is the technician who makes the evaluation. The

technician, then, decides if a technology is "good". If the farmer eval-

uates this "good" technology and does not accept it, then the technician

considers it a problem for the extension service, or of poor infrastruc-

ture, of low prices, or of lack of initiative on the part of the farmer

himself, but it is not a problem for the agronomist, who has produced

what he considers to be a "good" product. In this situation, evaluation

by the farmer is equated with influence by socio-economics, who would tend

to take into consideration more variables including the present weaknesses

in infrastructure, the price level, the farmers' capabilities, etc., in

the development of a technology so that the product of the team's efforts

- 4 -

could be used immediately without the need to await development of other

facets of the sector. In other words, in ICTA, we have not yet completely

identified the kind of product we are to produce.

Even though we are a long way down the road, more needs to be done

at ICTA to make the multidisciplinary teams, and the efforts of the entire

Institute, more efficient. The top management of the Institute (all of

whom are biological scientists) agree that socio-economics must contribute

directly to the generation of agricultural technology, a concept with

which we fully concur. On the other hand, because of their own traditional

training, they also tend to be apprehensive about too much influence from

socio-economics and therefore are sometimes hesitant to provide the kind

of support which could enhance the efficiency of the multidisciplinary

teams much more rapidly. Hence another critical characteristic of a suc-

cessful multidisciplinary team effort is the conviction of management and

their understanding, dedication and support of the concept. Support at

this level is required in order to counteract the traditional resistance

initially found at the field level.

A final necessary component for creating successful multidisci-

plinary teams is long run stability of the governemt and/or its policies,

so that management and staff of national institutes who are expected to

develop technology for small, traditional farmers, and for which multi-

disciplinary teams are required, have time to work out the details so

they can function effectively.


5 -


GALT, Daniel Lee. 1977. Economic weights for breeding
selection indices: empirical determination of the
importance of various pests affecting tropical maize.
Ph.D. dissertation. Cornell University, Ithaca, New

GLADWIN, Christina. 1976. A view of the Plan Puebla: an
application of hierarchical decision models. American
Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. LVIII, No. 5
(1976), pp. 881-887

HARWOOD, R.R. 1975. Farmer-oriented research aimed at crop
intensification, pp. 12-32 In International Rice
Research Institute, Proceedings of the Cropping Systems
Workshop, March 18-20, 1975, Los Banos, Philippines.

WERGE, Robert W. 1978. Social science training for regional
agricultural development. Presented at the meetings of
the Society for Applied Anthropology, Merida, Mexico.

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