The Practice of Innovation: The Role of Institutions in Support of Non-Wood Forest Products

  • Last update: 09 March 2017
  • Author: Alice Ludvig, Giulia Corradini, Marelli Asamer-Handler, Davide Pettenella, Verónica Verdejo, Silvia Martínez, and Gerhard Weiss

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This article examines institutional structures of innovations in Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs). We examine both the involvement and the role of institutions via three in-depth case studies in Europe: a food label from nature parks in Austria, a mushroom cooperation in Spain, and a chestnut association in Italy. Our analyses show that in all three cases, specific conglomerates of different types of institutions had decisive impacts on innovations. Innovations were developed by associations and cooperatives of producers that were supported by private consulting companies in the first two cases, and by a municipality in the third case. To date, scholarly literature on the role of institutions in innovations has focused on institutions as external support. In contrast, our results show that institutions can also be part of the innovations themselves. Consequently, we claim that it is more fruitful to analytically examine institutions for innovation from two separate perspectives. First, from an external perspective because institutions may influence the development of innovations through their support. Second, from an internal perspective because institutions may constitute part of the innovation development process itself, which we label as “institutional innovation”. Institutional innovations are labour intensive and time-consuming. They take five to twenty years to evolve and require specific support from “outside” institutional actors.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonst ration under grant agreement No. 311919

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