Alex Koutsouris


The purpose of this piece of work is to investigate, through a literature review, the role of intermediaries in agricultural and rural development. In the first place, a general view of the roles of intermediaries, (focusing on the two main types of intermediaries, i.e. facilitators and brokers), as depicted in literature, is provided. Following, the emergence of facilitators and brokers in agricultural literature is explored based on the turn from reductionist to systemic science as well as from the expert syndrome to participatory development. Such changes pose a major challenge to the dominant Transfer of Technology extension model and allow for the rise of a facilitation model; this is further reinforced by the sustainability rhetoric and practice. As a consequence the understanding of ‘intermediation’ has to be transformed from exploitation to exploration, i.e. from information dissemination to co-learning facilitation or from old to new KIBS. A number of examples from agriculture-related literature (and practice) illustrate such an argument. This review points to the fact that, at least as far as agriculture-related theory and practice are concerned, intermediaries as co-learning facilitators signify rather new roles requiring specific and, to a large degree, unexplored skills. Given that that there is still a number of issues threatening the efficacy of intermediaries (facilitators and brokers), it is argued that there is an urgent need for facilitation and brokerage to be better described, operationally defined and well-evaluated so as to allow for both a better interpretation and guidance of practice..


Agricultural extension, advisory services, intermediaries, facilitators, innovation brokers, KIBS.

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Copyright (c) 2014 Alex Koutsouris

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