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Beyond Individualistic Behaviour: Social Norms and Innovation Adoption in Rural Mozambique

1 June 2022

Beyond Individualistic Behaviour: Social Norms and Innovation Adoption in Rural Mozambique

The adoption of new technologies by smallholder farmers to support economic and human development has received increased attention from scholars and development policymakers. This is particularly true for Africa, given the importance of the agricultural sector for economic growth and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, profitable innovations, such as improved seeds, fertilizers, and crop-protection chemicals, are not sufficiently adopted by farmers.

In this Webinar, Professor Massimiliano Mazzanti will talk us through this study which aims to contribute to a better understanding of this limited adoption by examining the drivers and obstacles to innovation by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a special focus on cultural and behavioural aspects.

The concepts of social norms and peer approval are considered in the farmers’ decisions on innovation adoption. The focus is mainly on the social norm of being a ‘good farmer’, a distinction made amongst farming peers, based on the characteristics that are socially approved in the rural community. Adherence to the social norm of being a good farmer is considered one of the main drivers of farmers’ decisions, including innovation adoption. The study is based on a survey of 300 smallholder farmers in Mozambique.

The results of the study show that the social norm of being a good farmer differs from that mostly shared in developed countries mainly connected to maximizing farming production. What emerges from the investigation is a socially accepted idea of a good farmer being one who is extremely concerned about others in their community. The results of various quantitative analyses on the intensity and adoption of innovations show that this prosocial idea of the good farmer does not prevent farmers from adopting innovations and has a significant impact on the adoption of the most radical innovations. The present study reveals the need to contextualize the analysis of farmers’ decisions in the cultural and social context in which they operate.

This webinar will be chaired by Jason Beedell, Director of Research for rural management at Strutt & Parker, who will be able to offer insight on the potential connections between Massimiliano's study in Mozambique and rural communities in the UK.

About Professor Mazzanti
Massimiliano Mazzanti is full Professor in Economic policy, University of Ferrara, at the Department of Economics & Management, where he is lecturer in Macroeconomics; Environmental economics and policy, and Ecological Economics. He has directed the inter university centre SEEDS since the foundation in 2012. He also directs the new CERCIS Research centre on the Circular Economy, Innovation and SMEs.

He has collaborated and published policy oriented reports under research contracts with OECD, UNIDO, and The World Bank. He has directed research units within EU projects in FP7 and CECILIA 2050.

Massimiliano graduated at the University of Bologna before continuing his education with an MSc in Environmental & Natural Resources Economics at UCL, London, and a PhD in Economics at the University of Rome. His main research competences revolve around applied environmental economics and policy issues such as: sustainable development, environment and trade, climate change policies, environmental innovation, environmental policy design and assessment, environmental fiscal reforms, waste management and policy, economic valuation of the environment, and beyond-GDP green accounting issues.

His publication record includes more than 100 papers in peer reviewed international journals, six books as co-editor published with Routledge and Springer, and many other contributions in books and reports. Regarding Journals, he has published extensively in high ranked journals such as Research Policy, Ecological Economics, Resource and Energy Economics, Environmental & Resource economics, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, and Applied Economics. Many contributions have found space in inter and multi disciplinary journals such as Environmental science and policy, Environmental sciences, Economics and Industrial Democracy, the Journal of environment and development, among others.

About Jason Beedell
Jason is a rural practice chartered surveyor. He works for Strutt & Parker as Director of Research, providing research and advice on farming, land, and property management to the owners of around two million acres of land in the UK.

He has a long-standing interest in the environment and in what affects farmers’ decisions. His first research project was on understanding why some farmers are more conservation-minded than others (it was in the less exotic location of Bedfordshire in the UK). Recently, Jason has been working closely with eftec in the UK to quantify the benefits delivered by land managers through natural capital accounts.

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