Case Studies

Bringing about impact: what leads to successful adoption and practice change?

At AgResearch, we want our stakeholders and end users to use our R&D outputs (e.g papers, workshops, products etc) to bring about positive outcomes for New Zealand. Although great science, and professional outputs of that science, are important pre-requisites for achieving impact, on their own they are often insufficient. For example, if no-one reads a journal publication, or uses a decision support tool – however well put together it may be – then practice change is unlikely to occur. So we’ve studied past and present projects to determine the factors that lead to successful impact.

These case studies show that the following principles are more likely to lead to the successful impact of a project:

  1. Take a problem focus
  2. Understand your next and end users
  3. Alignment of needs
  4. The right team
  5. Involve stakeholders in implementing solutions
  6. Action learning (plan-do-observe-reflect)
  7. Front up: share results early and often

The case studies included a parasitology mentor group; a lamb survival project, where farmers, industry and research worked together to improve lamb mortality; and the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI), a collaborative approach towards the voluntary adoption of whole farm plans.

Another case illustrating these principles is the Dairy Sheep programme, where AgResearch, industry, and research partners worked together to develop and implement a research programme supporting the development of the New Zealand dairy sheep industry. You can read more about this case study here.