Enrolling advisers in governing privatised agricultural extension in Australia: challenges and opportunities for the research, development and extension system

Jana-Axinja Paschen, Nicole Reichelt, Barbara King, Margaret Ayre, Ruth Nettle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Current developments in the Australian agricultural research, development and extension (RD&E) system exemplify the complex governance challenges arising from the international privatisation of agricultural extension. Presenting early challenges emerging from a multi-stakeholder project aimed at stimulating the role of the private advisory sector in the RD&E system, this paper contributes to understanding change dynamics in the RD&E system. Methodology: The project applies action research to assist reframing current RD&E governance arrangements towards an enhanced, pluralistic and collaborative system. This paper uses multi-level transition theory (MLP) to explore the dynamics of change by describing the ‘regime’ of the current Australian RD&E system, wherein the project is an emergent ‘niche-in-the- making’. Findings: The regime-based challenges arising from the unfolding Australian project collaboration allow critical assessment of the first moves of niche formation initiated by the project. Initial findings suggest a persisting instrumentalist conceptualisation of the private sector’s role in the RD&E system solely as extension providers. This is in tension with the project vision of supporting new roles for private sector advisers as key actors in the governance of co-innovation processes. Practical implications: In describing these challenges and considering how the project’s action research can facilitate participant responses, we contribute to understanding how niche formation can be supported in Australia and internationally. Theoretical implications: The paper contributes to a research agenda related to the governance of agricultural advisory services via an analysis of social practice elements that constitute internal niche processes. Originality: Enabling critical analysis of the incumbent regime of the current RD&E system, this framework provides insights into how niche responses aimed at the RD&E system change can be supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-282
Number of pages18
JournalThe Journal of Agricultural Education & Extension
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • co-innovation
  • governance
  • innovation systems
  • Privatised agricultural extension

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