Recent Submissions

  • From Knowledge to Invention: Exploring User Innovation in Irish Agriculture

    O'Flynn, Patricia (2017-07)
    Improvements in European agriculture are framed in the literature as arising from an Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System with innovations provided by others for farmers to adopt. The motivators for farmers who invent useful products for themselves, without outside involvement, are not well understood in such developed countries. These inventions, often shared with other farmers rather than introduced to the market, arise from a process of user innovation (von Hippel, 2005). This thesis examines Irish farmers’ motivators in the creation and subsequent sharing or commercialisation of farming artefacts. Their motivators are conceptualised from a sociological perspective, using Bourdieu’s theory of capitals (1986). Employing a multi-perspective research design, methods include a content analysis of 210 inventions, semi-structured interviews with key informants from innovation support organisations, and in-depth interviews with farmer-inventors. The findings indicate that most farmer-inventors get great personal satisfaction from problem-solving and, being generally without higher education, use their tacit knowledge to create inventions that increase efficiency as a means to improve family farm viability. Despite efficiency usually indicating skilful farming, Irish farmer-inventors are frequently derided by other farmers who deem their inventing to be culturally inappropriate. Farmer-inventors with entrepreneurial intentions, willing to withstand such hostility, face financial and temporal constraints, while the help offered by innovation support organisations is often inadequate. As a result, some inventions with commercial potential may never reach the market. Farmer-inventors who share their knowledge and inventions in social learning networks, similar to communities of practice, accrue social capital that leads to the emergence of a shared farmer-inventor identity. This thesis contributes to knowledge about user innovation in developed country agriculture by offering deeper understandings of farmer-inventors’ social, cultural, and economic processes. It proposes farmers to be an underappreciated source of knowledge and inventions, which offer low cost farm-level solutions to support family farm resilience.
  • Improving Public Access to the Irish Countryside for Walking – Investigation of Supply and Demand Side Factors

    Buckley, Cathal (2009-07-01)
    Increased interest and demand for land based recreational amenities has seen the rise of conflict between landowners and recreationalists (particularly walkers) in the Republic of Ireland. A right of access to the countryside for recreation prevalent across other developed nations does not apply. Stakeholders have tabled various proposals to address this situation ranging from a right to roam across the countryside to a compensation payment to landowners for recreational access. Whilst policy makers are aware of the economic opportunities associated with open-air outdoor recreation activities, rational public decision making requires that economic benefits and costs should be clearly identified and valued to justify any policy intervention. To-date no such evaluation has been undertaken. This thesis explores supply and demand side factors that influence public access provision to the Irish countryside for recreational walking. Firstly, contingent valuation was used to measure the willingness to pay of consumers for improved public access and trail improvements on commonage farmland based on two case study sites in the Connemara region. Secondly, a national representative survey was used to explore the attitudes of landowners across the Republic of Ireland to the wider provision of public access for recreational walking on farmland, including the potential opportunity costs to agriculture as well as the level of compensation demanded by landowners. This thesis argues that based on derived welfare estimates there is significant scope for policy interventions to improve public access to the countryside in the Republic of Ireland.