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ASIRPA: socio-economic analysis of the diversity of Impacts of Public Research for Agriculture


A relevant and reliable approach to appreciate the different impacts of the research

The ASIRPA project was launched in 2009 with the aim of analyzing the wider societal impacts of agronomic research

The first work to measure the non-academic impact of agronomic research dates back to the early 1950s and has for a long time been concerned with the economic impacts of a given innovation. This approach, difficult because of the time lag between the production of scientific knowledge and its translation into innovation, also comes up against the intrinsic difficulty of attributing to a particular research or institution the merit of the development of an innovation produced, in fact through the combined efforts of a system of actors. Moreover, the calculation, centered on the economic dimension, does not do justice to the diversity of possible effects of agronomic research, on the environment, public policies, territories, food, or health.
The ASIRPA project was launched in 2009 with the aim of analyzing the wider societal impacts of agronomic research carried out in a finalized public body such as INRA. The project therefore aims at a dual objective, methodological and operational. A methodological objective, because it is a question of proposing a relevant and reliable approach to appreciate the different impacts of the research by exceeding the limits of the approaches currently implemented. An operational objective because it is a question of concretely applying this methodology to INRA in order to appreciate the impacts of the research carried out there.
Like the impact assessment methods implemented by foreign organizations similar to INRA (WUR in the Netherlands or BBSRC in the United Kingdom), the ASIRPA method starting point is the collection and analysis of several case studies combining qualitative and quantitative data. Within this general framework, ASIRPA aims to go beyond the limits of the simple juxtaposition of case studies to obtain an aggregate image at the Institute level.
The originality of the methodology lies in the standardization of the presentation report of the case studies, and the production of three analytical tools:

  • a chronology that makes it possible to trace the generation of impacts over time, which very often feeds on a capital of capacities and partnerships built over a long time step;
  • a visual representation of the impact path that reveals the specific contribution of INRA, those of its academic and socio-economic partners, and the numerous and dense interactions between all actors;
  • an impact vector that accounts for the diversity of impacts according to five dimensions relating to the economy, the environment, health, the public policies and society.

A cross-analysis of case studies produced to date, and a typology are tools to derive information at the level of the research institute.