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Evaluating for learning and accountability in system innovation: Incorporating reflexivity in a logical framework

Partners' Institution
Södertörn University
1. Botha N, Coutts J, Turner JA, White T, Williams T. Evaluating for learning and accountability in system innovation: Incorporating reflexivity in a logical framework. Outlook on Agriculture. 2017;46(2):154-160. doi:10.1177/0030727017707406
Thematic Area
Development studies
https/ doi10.1177/0030727017707406
Approaches to accelerate innovation have become more integrated and systemic over time, such as Agricultural Innovation Systems and co-innovation. Primary Innovation is a New Zealand co-innovation programme in which innovation is conceived as being ‘co-produced’ by stakeholders who contribute their unique knowledge to solving a problem or realizing an opportunity. In co-innovation, cyclical processes of planning, doing, observing and reflecting enable innovation to emerge from interactive learning among stakeholders. In this article, we argue that when flexibly applied and adapted to capture dynamics typical in systems innovation projects, the log frame approach and logical frameworks have considerable utility to support evaluation for both learning and accountability and for identifying and addressing institutional logics, which lead to system innovation. We demonstrate this for the case of Primary Innovation and compare our experiences with the limitations and solutions suggested by other recent researchers when applying logic models, logical frameworks, programme theories or theories of change as part of an ‘adapted accountability framework’
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
Reflexivity and learning are crucial functions when it comes to change or innovation in social systems. The ways that actors engage in joint activities that enhances their knowledge about the system and its environment can make systems innovation possible. This article proposes to use established methods of Logical Framework Analysis, despite the severe criticism LFA has received over the years.

While most LFA relate to objectivs set at the start and an evaluation at the end, this article suggest a way of using LFA in a more fluent and interactive way to provide a better understandnng of the system changes as they occur. Usin g the LFA to discuss both outcomes and needed modifications of all the included variables, it may create opportunities for an improved understanding of the systemic process that the actors are engaged in.
Point of Strength
The article shows a way for actors to maintain engagment and a common understanding of processes of system change. This can be used by universities when conducting research or education activities off campus with external actors, such as action research or commissioned education