On Wednesday 8 July 2015, PARASITE postdoc Josey Kamanda successfully defended his PhD work at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. The thesis, supervised by Prof. Dr. Regina Birner, examined the dilemma faced by international agricultural research centres under the CGIAR in defining their functional boundaries. Josey graduated with the highest grade (1.0 – Sehr Gut [very good]).
The role of International agricultural research centres (IARCs) has long been a subject of discussion, often with emphasis that they should conduct research that produces international public goods (IPGs). However, centres still face a dilemma on how to balance between IPGs and location-specific work. The thesis contributed to the development of principles by which CGIAR centres can position themselves by: (i) Analysing perspectives of different stakeholders on the dilemma regarding focus of the CGIAR on IPGs versus downstream uptake-oriented work, (ii) Developing a framework based on transaction cost economics to guide decision making on how the CGIAR centres should position themselves in relation to national systems (iii) Examining the underlying issues at the national level that drive CGIAR centres to conduct activities for which they may not have a comparative advantage.
Priority setting and targeting of research activities under CGIAR Research Programs should include assessment of innovation capacities for mandate crops for each country and for all activities along the research-development continuum.
Depending on capacity, CGIAR centres have to take advantage of both their comparative and complementary advantages. Complementary functions will include devising ways of addressing capacity challenges and playing a catalytic, facilitative or advocacy role depending on the context.
A more systematic learning and documentation of institutional lessons from “downstream” activities is required to understand conditions that shape outcomes/ impact and how change happens in complex systems