Improving the participatory development of decision support systems for the sugar industry

Jakku, Emma, Thorburn, Peter, Everingham, Yvette, and Inman-Bamber, Geoff (2007) Improving the participatory development of decision support systems for the sugar industry. In: Proceedings of the 2007 Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (29) pp. 41-49. From: 29th Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, 8-11 May 2007, Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

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Sugar production systems are characterized by complex interactions between a range of economic, environmental and social factors. This complexity has lead to a search for ways in which scientific knowledge can be incorporated into forms that industry stakeholders can use to assist their management decisions. Decision support systems (DSSs) are one of the ways in which scientists have attempted to make agricultural systems science more accessible and useful for industry stakeholders. Recently, there has been a shift towards more participatory research and development of DSSs. We have analysed the participatory development of DSSs using concepts from the sociology of science and technology, as part of a study examining the adoption of knowledge intensive technologies in the Australian sugar industry. In this paper, we develop a framework for describing the phases of the participatory process, and the likely outcomes of the process. Understanding these phases allows those involved to be more confident that the participatory process will result in the beneficial relationships and greater mutual understanding that are desired from these processes. This work also highlights that the subsequent use of the DSS is not a guaranteed outcome of participatory development. We identify two likely outcomes of participatory DSS development: DSSs may lead to practice change even if they are used only to build capacity, or DSSs may be used directly to improve practice on an ongoing basis. Our analysis so far suggests that successful DSS development should be viewed as a participatory process leading to practice change, which results in improved farm or agricultural supply chain management, irrespective of whether or not this involves ongoing DSS use. We illustrate this framework with case studies of DSSs for irrigation management and climate forecasting.

Item ID: 3151
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISSN: 0726-0822
Keywords: participatory research and development; decision support systems; sociology; irrigation management; climate forecasting
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2009 04:44
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 34%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160899 Sociology not elsewhere classified @ 33%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0499 Other Earth Sciences > 049999 Earth Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 33%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 51%
82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820304 Sugar @ 49%
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