The role of stakeholder engagement in developing new technologies and innovation for nitrogen reduction in waters: A longitudinal study

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Better nitrogen management, technologies, and regulation are required to reduce nitrogen losses in the aquatic environment. New innovative technologies can support farmers in a more targeted planning of fertilizer application and crop management at the field level to increase the effect of measures when reducing nitrogen losses. However, if farmers do not perceive the need for such a concept, the demand (market pull) will be minimal, making the implementation of such a technology difficult. The lack of this market pull could, however, be counterbalanced by a market push from research or requirements from public sector stakeholders (regulators). Within this domain, the main objective of this paper was to study technological change over time and identify and understand the crucial stakeholder involvement using the Functions of Innovation Systems Approach. This article shows how stakeholders’ perceptions and participation evolved over a 10-year period. It examines the interplay between technology readiness and the perceived readiness and acceptance by affected stakeholders. We demonstrate how stakeholder engagement was crucial to ensure the development of the technologies by creating marketable options for their future implementation. A key dynamic that emerged in this process was the transition from a research push to a regulator pull. We demonstrate the fact that without the regulatory requirement linked to changes towards more targeting of measures, the technology would not, on its own, be a business case, although it would provide new knowledge, thus representing a gain for society. The specific findings can be used in countries where new technologies need to be developed, and where a link to the regulation can ensure the active use of the new technology and, therefore, make their implementation worthwhile.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3313
Issue number22
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • Long-term projects, Public–private sector collaboration, Sociotechnical innovation, Stakeholder engagement, Transition theory

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