Developing a Collaborative Team

Role of the Project Leader

Assembling the Core Team

Engaging Farmers and Other Nonacademic Stakeholders in Systems Projects

Instilling a Culture of Collaboration

Facilitating Participatory Decision-Making

Elements of Participatory Decision-Making

Becoming a Good Facilitator

Planning and Conducting Effective Meetings

Planning the Meeting

During the Meeting

SARE Case Study: SAFS: Systems Research Using Participatory Decision-Making


Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. —Henry Ford

Because agricultural systems research aims to understand agriculture as a complex system, interdisciplinary research—research that integrates perspectives and knowledge across disciplines—is generally the most effective approach to use for agricultural systems projects. However, this approach can be challenging because participants must address questions and problems beyond their areas of expertise. Collaborating with scientists from other disciplines can also be difficult because many researchers are accustomed to having a great deal of autonomy and control over their work, and to interacting primarily with others in their own or closely related disciplines. Many scientists may also find it challenging to share decision- making, planning and outreach with nonacademic team members such as farmers, consumer groups or community planners.

And yet, teamwork and participatory decision-making are the cornerstones of successful interdisciplinary systems research. As mentioned in Chapter 1, a critical part of systems research is regrouping, which involves changes in how questions are tested. Regrouping also requires using the skills of a diverse team to tackle those questions.