Learning alliances: An approach for building multi-stakeholder innovation systems

Millions of dollars are spent each year on research and development (R&D) initiatives in an attempt to improve rural livelihoods in the developing world, but rural poverty remains an intractable problem in many places.

There are many reasons for this; one being the limited collective learning that occurs between researchers, development workers, donors, policymakers and private enterprise.

As a result, useful research results do not reach the poor, lessons learned do not influence research, and donor and policy agendas are less relevant than they could be. This Brief describes how the Rural Agroenterprise Development Project of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) is addressing the problem. Through building learning alliances that engage multiple stakeholders in processes of innovation, the initiative is enhancing learning and improving effectiveness in rural enterprise development.


  • The learning alliance approach
  • Why learning alliances?
  • Key principles for successful learning alliances
  • How to establish a learning alliance
  • Learning alliances in practice
  • Challenges for learning alliances


Lundy, M., Gottret, M. V., & Ashby, J. (2005). Learning Alliances: An approach for building multistakeholder innovation systems, ILAC Brief No. 8. Rome: Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.