The coordination of agricultural R&D in the U.S. and Germany: Markets versus networks

Barbara Brandl, Katrin Paula

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Making money out of knowledge is a more difficult venture than it might seem due to defining characteristics of knowledge: non-rivalry and non-excludability in consumption. We argue that institutional attempts to overcome this difficulty in knowledge commodification shape the type of technological innovation in an economy. We suggest that two coordination types of R&D can be found: coordination by the market and coordination by networks. Empirically, our analysis is based on a mixed methods approach. We combine qualitative interviews with employees of seed companies in the U.S. and Germany, historical records, and descriptive quantitative analysis of yield developments in several crops. Finally, we compare market concentration in the U.S. and Germany. Our results indicate that coordination of agricultural R&D by the market (as in the U.S. since the 1980s) fosters innovations that are based on explicit knowledge. Furthermore, coordination by the market privileges large companies, tends to lead to a strong market concentration, and limits the development efforts on a few commercially beneficial crops. Coordination of agricultural R&D by networks (as in Germany), on the other hand, fosters innovations that are based on implicit knowledge and privileges medium-sized handcraft-based companies, which maintain innovation activities in a larger spectrum of crops. We conclude that the ban of transgenic seed in Europe cannot only be explained by the consumer protest but might also root in the institutional structure that coordinates agricultural R&D.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModeling, Dynamics, Optimization and Bioeconomics II - DGS III, and Bioeconomy VII, Selected Contributions
EditorsDavid Zilberman, Alberto A. Pinto
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783319552354
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event3rd International Conference on Dynamics, Games and Science, DGS 2014 - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 17 Feb 201421 Feb 2014

Publication series

NameSpringer Proceedings in Mathematics and Statistics
ISSN (Print)2194-1009
ISSN (Electronic)2194-1017


Conference3rd International Conference on Dynamics, Games and Science, DGS 2014


  • Agricutural innovation
  • Market concentartion
  • Seed markets
  • Transgenic seed


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