Posted April 1998
Managing Agricultural Research -
This Special is adapted from the Introductory Module of "Management of agricultural research: a training manual", by V.N. Asopa and G. Beye (FAO, 1997).
by Louise O. Fresco
Director, FAO Research, Extension and Training Division
There has been a tremendous development of agricultural research in developing
countries over the past few decades, during which time investment in agricultural
research from both national resources and international assistance has increased
markedly. However, agricultural research institutions are generally managed
by veteran agricultural research workers promoted for seniority rather than
for management training and skills. Further, there are few courses available
on the management of agricultural research, and solutions and models used
in the developed world may not be appropriate for developing countries.
FAO has actively participated in strengthening the national agricultural
research systems of developing countries, and has stressed the importance
of effective organization and management for efficient research systems.
The need for training in this area is great, and resources - particularly
trained human resources - are limited. FAO has therefore developed
a training programme on agricultural research management to support the
training of trainers, with the expectation of a multiplier effect, and to
facilitate a common perception of the structure and terminology of management,
thus enhancing communication and understanding among agricultural research
managers in discussing management problems, solutions and opportunities.
"Management of agricultural research: a training manual", by V.N. Asopa and G. Beye (FAO, 1997) has been prepared as a basic reference resource for
national trainers, to help them structure and conduct their own courses
on management at the institute level. A separate manual will cover project
and programme management. The manual is based on the four structural functions
of management: planning, organizing, monitoring and controlling, and evaluating,
each of which is covered in individual modules. Within each module, the
manual addresses pervasive management functions, including motivating, leading,
directing, priority setting, communicating and delegating, which are at
all times a concern to all managers. Topics such as leadership, motivation,
human resources management, policies and procedures are treated separately
in individual sessions.
The manual as been designed for participatory learning through case studies,
group exercises, presentations by the participants and participatory lectures.
Throughout the manual, particular effort has been made to use the cases
studied to capture the unique and rich experience of developing country
research managers in tackling policy, programme and the day-to-day problems
of managing research institutions and systems.
"Management of agricultural research", is intended primarily for managers of agricultural research
institutes in developing countries and for higher education institutions
interested in launching in-service training courses on research management.
However, it is hoped that agricultural research managers everywhere will
also find it useful. The manual provides a course structure with contents
that can be built upon and enriched. Users are therefore encouraged to send
suggestions for its improvement.
The task of preparing a training manual on Agricultural Research Institute
Management began with the FAO Expert Consultation on Strategies for Research
Management Training in Africa, held at the International Livestock Centre
for Africa (ILCA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12-16December 1983. Following
the recommendations of the consultation, and on the basis of the curriculum
design adopted, FAO embarked upon the preparation of this manual. In the
process of its preparation, many agricultural research managers and management
specialists have contributed. Besides the two main consultants, namely Dr
Ronald P. Black, Denver Research Institute, University of Denver, USA, who
prepared the first draft, and Dr V.N. Asopa, Professor at the Indian Institute
of Management, Ahmedabad, India, who prepared the current version of the
manual, the contribution of the following specialists in various fields
must be singled out: Ramesh Bhat, J. Casas, A.K. Jain, F.S. Kanwar, V.Martinson,
Gopal Naik, P. Nath, R.K. Patel, T.P. Rama Rao, S.K. Sharma, E.S.Tayengco,
and J.S. Woolston. FAO expresses its gratitude to them all. Special thanks are due to the International Service for National Agricultural
Research (ISNAR), which has willingly made available its valuable experience
and relevant materials throughout the preparation of the manual. FAO also thanks all those authors and publishers who have allowed the use
of copyright material from their publications, and the courtesy is recognized
in each case. This manual has been prepared under the responsibility of the Research Development
Centre, Research and Technology Development Division, FAO, with the guidance
of: Mohamed S. Zehni, former Director; and J.H. Monyo, E. Venezian and B.
M¸ller-Haye, past Chiefs of the Research Development Centre. Scientific
supervision was provided by G.Beye, Senior Officer, now Chief, Research
Technology and Development Service.
CGIAR - Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
ECA - UN Economic Commission for Africa
FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
ICIPE - International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology
ILCA - International Livestock Research Centre for Africa
ISNAR - International Service for National Agricultural Research
MIS - management information systems
OAU/STRC/SAFGRAD - Consultative Advisory Committee on Semi-Arid Food Grain
research and Development of the Scientific Technical and Research Commission
of the Organization of African Unity
NARS - national agricultural research systems
R&D - research and development
RDC - Research Development Centre
SEDP - short-duration, executive development programme
TAC - Technical Advisory Committee
TCDC - Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries