Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 10:00 AM

The Consultative Group on International Research (CGIAR); a decision case by D. Bell and H. Hogan, Harvard University.

Kent Crookston, Brigham Young Univ, 301 Widtsoe Bldg., Provo, UT 84602-5250

In the spring of 2004, the CGIAR was 33 years old and could point to a number of major accomplishments that led to improvements in the nutrition and health of millions of people. It was considered primarily responsible for doubling rice, wheat and maize yields in developing countries. It had grown from 20 members (countries and foundations) supporting four agricultural research centers in 1971, to 63 members supporting fifteen centers in 2004.  Throughout its history it had maintained a consensus model of governance and resisted a centralized organization. However, with 63 members many felt it had grown too large and that its governance structure no longer allowed timely, responsive, and effective decision making.  CGIAR was under pressure to deal with agriculture in a more holistic way and to move its research beyond improving crop yields to areas such as sustainable agriculture, protection of biodiversity, incorporation of biotechnology, and various social issues.  Donors were demanding shorter turn-around and greater accountability with funding. How was the CGIAR to reform itself in response to a research and funding environment that had changed dramatically?  How could the organization implement strong governance and yet maintain its collegiality?  How could it continue to address the problems of developing countries in the future and also satisfy the concerns of donors?  The CGIAR dilemma, prepared within the Harvard Business School, will be discussed as one example of a number of decision cases done in the classical business style that can be advantageously used in traditional Land Grant agricultural education.  It illustrates the power of a decision case for stimulating debate about, and for making holistic evaluations of, current and historical agricultural issues.