Project Summary

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI) partners with scientists and stakeholders around the globe to co-develop tools, technologies and methods in crop improvement that address local concerns and focus on community impact. Our goal is to listen to NARIs as they define their own goals and drive advancement to breed resilient crop varieties that stand up to pests, diseases and climate change. We believe that if national programs play a central role in designing innovations that prioritize and target their unique needs, then these solutions will be more sustainable in the long-term. Our work fuses cutting-edge science and collaboration to make food more accessible, reliable and responsive to the diverse needs around the globe. 

Scope of work

ILCI is seeking proposals for a consultant to conduct research on power dynamics and an analysis of international crop breeding teams.

International crop breeding teams are becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. As a result of new research, they are recognizing the need to incorporate stakeholder and end-user perspectives to address gender issues in particular. They are also responding to donor pressure to ensure that they significant investments in crop breeding research are inclusive and having a positive impact on diverse farmers’ fields.

Breeders, nutritionists, economists, agronomists, pathologists and gender experts are working together in one team. These teams are at their formative stages at most breeding programs, and the process of how these teams interact, how they make decisions, whose voice is heard and how is not documented or researched. Analysis of breeding teams’ power dynamics and functioning would enable us to model more collaborative, interdisciplinary and equal team arrangements. Teams need to communicate, synthesize the information from multiple disciplines and come together to brainstorm solutions.

This call is to identify a qualified consultant to work with the ILCI team to forge a path in this nacent research area. The research question that underlies this work is: How do power dynamics in breeding teams and institutions effect interdisciplinarity and voice of social scientists, especially gender specialists in these teams?

Project description

We intend to engage a highly qualified consultant with experience in “researching researchers” and applying ethnographic methodologies, preferably with familiarity with agricultural science or plant breeding, and with a background in social science, science technology studies, or organizational behavior. The consultant would work collaboratively with the ILCI team members to design a research agenda, conduct the fieldwork, and write up the results for internal and external circulation.

The outcome of this research would not only be academic, but the consultant would be specifically asked to formulate concrete best practice recommendations to foster interdisciplinary breeding teams to function with equity.

Timeline

  1. Contracting finalized in by mid-June 2021
  2. The framing and research will be designed June 2021 – Sept 2021
  3. Fieldwork will be planned for within the window of September 2021 -April 2022, depending on COVID and when the consultant is allowed to travel[1].
  4. Results will be analyzed April – June 2022 and written up in publication form by September 2022.

Budget

$60,000 for engagement of a senior consultant for the time period of June 2021-Sept 2022, inclusive of international travel to 2-4 countries (depending on travel restrictions and budget) to observe teams and collect data (approximately $5000 per trip inclusive flight, transport, hotel and means).

Outcomes

  1. Framework and methodological approach to the study of interdisciplinary crop improvement teams with a focus on social inclusion and disciplinary difference
  2. A diagnostic process to assess the power dynamics and effectiveness of interdisciplinary teams in relation to crop improvement
  3. Recommendations to build more collaborative and reflective teams that improve their function to address interdisciplinary work in relation to crop improvement

Contract outputs

  • One academic paper consistent with the quality of a peer-reviewed publication on the framework and methodological approach and results of research.
  • One brief/guide (up to 10 pages) with practical recommendations for teams to improve their functional interdisciplinarity and intra-team power relations.

Potential points of research

OVERALL: how do power dynamics in breeding teams and institutions effect interdisciplinarity and voice of social scientists, especially gender specialists in these teams?

  • What are the factors contributing to team dynamics in crop improvement (opportunities and barriers)?
  • How does discipline (including academic and professional background) interact with social identity (gender+) to shape individual team member positions?
  • How are dimensions of power experienced and expressed within teams? How are they grown (empowerment) or limited (disempowerment)?
  • In what ways do institutional and management structures influence the intrateam dynamics?
  • How do intrateam dynamics influence the teams’ ability to effectively set and achieve goals? How does this influence the team’s goals and their responsiveness to social impact?

Application process

Interested consultants should send their CV, statement of interest, and a one page research outline to Hale Ann Tufan (hat36@cornell.edu). Proposals will be received until the position is filled.


[1] The timeline is intentionally left longer as the field visits will depend on the ability of the consultant to travel for the observational research.