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Impacts of agricultural research - towards an approach of societal values

About the conference

21 March 2018

Impacts of agricultural research - towards an approach of societal values

An International Conference organized by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)

November 3-4 2015, Paris

To access the material of the conference (slides, full papers...) click here.


Research Impact Assessment (RIA) is receiving renewed attention in light of shortages in public funds, the diffusion of New Public Management rules, the organization of research towards Grand challenges and increased expectations about the ability of research to deliver socio-economic impacts.

This pressure is especially strong for public research organizations (PROs) involved in targeted research. Agricultural research currently faces the challenges of sustainable transition. It is necessary to increase the production to face an increasing global demand, while limiting environmental impacts, and contributing to the mitigation of climate change. These new challenges occur in a period where scholars observe signs of decreasing impacts of research, which is a matter of concern.

This international conference aims at gathering scholars and practitioners to discuss the methodological challenges and the transformations of RIA methodologies in practice. State of the art literature addresses the societal values of research (or “public values”, Bozeman, 2003), that regard economic impacts as well as broader impacts (environmental, health, political…). Two types of methods are generally identified. Econometric methods estimate the impact of research expenses on productivity gain  in order to compile cost benefit ratio or rate of returns of agricultural research investment (Alston et al., 2011). Qualitative case-study based methods (Donovan, 2011; Spaapen and Van Drooge, 2011) allow to engage with the complexity of impact generation mechanisms related to networks of knowledge translation (Callon, 1986) evolving along various stages of an impact pathway. These methods generally are implemented ex-post but may be used for policy learning purposes.

The conference gathers presentations covering these two impact assessment methods.

Empirical as well as theoretical papers are welcome. Although this conference is mainly focused on agricultural research, papers dealing with other areas are also welcomed.


Alston, J.M., Andersen, M.A., James, J.S., Pardey, P.G., 2011. The Economic Returns to U.S. Public Agricultural Research. Am. J. Agric. Econ.

Bozeman, B., 2003. Public Value Mapping of Science Outcomes: Theory and Method, in: D. Sarewitz, Et. Al. Knowledge Flows & Knowledge Collectives: Understanding the Role of Science & Technology Policies in Development, 2.

Callon, M., 1986. The sociology of an actor-network, in: Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology. M. Callon, J. Law, and A. Rip, London.

Donovan, C., 2011. State of the art of assessing research impact: introduction to a special issue, Research Evaluation. Res. Eval. 20, 175–179.

Spaapen, J.M., Van Drooge, L., 2011. Introducing “productive interactions” in social assessment. Res. Eval. 20, 211–218.