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Using a Theory of Scaling to Guide Decision Making
by Seerp Wigboldus and Jan Brouwers
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Towards a structured approach to support responsible scaling of innovations in the context of agrifood systems


This booklet grew out of a study on what makes for responsible scaling in the context of agrifood systems, thinking along the same lines as ideas that gave rise to the concept of responsible research and innovation. In our initial exploration, we brought together a number of angles on the topic area (Wigboldus and Leeuwis, 2013; Wigboldus et al. 2016).

It became clear, however, that we needed to make our philosophical and conceptual ideas more practical. At the same time, we were hesitant to provide stepwise plans because we felt that they would not do justice to the complex dimensions and dynamics involved in scaling. We thus found ourselves in need of something that provides guidance on the one hand, but on the other hand leaves open specific choices and strategies. The idea and application of theories of change occurred to us as something that could bridge the two, as that is exactly what it is meant to do in wider change initiatives.

The booklet offers a way of thinking systemically and systematically about how scaling happens and could happen in the context of agrifood systems. It may provide initial ideas on how to strengthen competencies in the field of responsible scaling to advise and support scaling initiatives.

The booklet is available in a high and low resolution.

Further Reading:

  • Wigboldus S, Leeuwis C (2013). Towards responsible scaling up and out in agricultural development. An exploration of concepts and principles. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Centre for Development Innovation & Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group, Wageningen University and Research
  • Wigboldus S, Klerkx L, Leeuwis C, Schut M, Muilerman S, Jochemsen H (2016). Systemic perspectives on scaling agricultural innovations. A review. In: Agronomy for Sustainable Development 36:46. doi:10.1007/s13593-016-0380-z
  • Wigboldus S, Hammond J, Xu J, Yi, ZF, He J, Klerkx L, Leeuwis C (2016) Scaling green rubber cultivation in Southwest China—An integrative analysis of stakeholder perspectives, Science of the Total Environment (2016)