Measuring R&D Performance within an Innovation System Perspective: An Illustration from the Nigeria and Ghana Agricultural Resea

ASTI/IFPRI-FARA Conference Working Paper 14

This paper combines elements of organizational design, institutional analysis, and innovation systems literature to empirically measure organizational performance of agricultural research agencies in Nigeria and Ghana. Results presented in this paper are limited to researchers’ perceptions and measures at the national agricultural research organization (NARO) level, and are part of a larger ongoing research program that assesses the effectiveness of R&D investment in these countries.

Findings suggest a very weak to nonexistent farmer or impact orientation in NAROs in these countries, given that large shares of researchers in the samples interviewed had not interacted with farmers or extension agents in the previous year, nor had they any knowledge of the adoption or impact of the technologies they had contributed to generating. Results suggest that NAROs in Nigeria are more productive than those in Ghana based on the number of publications produced, their dissemination, and the perceived adoption and impact of technologies and publications produced. These factors are correlated with reports of greater emphasis on the part of their organizations on the number of publications produced, and greater research linkages in most organizations in Nigeria compared with those in Ghana.

Researchers in Ghana, however, reported more interaction with other innovation actors (other than researchers), which may be a reflection of a reported greater emphasis on internally generated (nongovernment) funding, which in turn requires greater collaboration with the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and other innovation actors. Researchers in Ghana reportedly have higher staff morale, which translates into higher job satisfaction, satisfaction with the effectiveness of their organizations, and satisfaction with their own work environment compared with researchers in Nigeria. Interestingly, this does not seem to be correlated with most performance measures other than linkages with other innovation actors.

Within Nigeria and Ghana, there seems to be variability across organizations, suggesting that there are both well- and poorly performing organizations within, not just across, countries.
Consistent indicators that are all correlated with increased research productivity include the ratio of PhD- to MSc-qualified researchers, the ratio of the operating budget to FTE researcher, researchers’ satisfaction with their work environment and with the physical resources available in their organizations, and the presence of international research collaboration and linkages with other innovation actors. Since this is an ongoing pilot study, continuous revision of the definitions and measures used is necessary, but the information gained can be applied to other countries for benchmarking purposes, to extract lessons from past implementation experiences, and to identify realistic indicators of well-performing researchers and organizations that can be usefully measured across a variety of countries and contexts.

Catherine R. Ragasa, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, and George Owusu Essegbey
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)
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