How might we understand the cultural, political and economic forces at play that might impact our response to a challenge?

Analyzing Innovation Systems to Forge Purpose-Driven Networks with LINK


Too often, efforts to address development challenges in agriculture, water, and health fail to take into account the roots of a challenge, and the system in which it persists.  What’s the risk in not taking this full picture into account?  Cultural norms are completely left out of proposed solutions and promising innovations fail to become self-sustaining because they are out of sync with market forces.  Oftentimes “novel ideas” have been tried before and hard-fought lessons about what’s worked and what’s failed go unlearned.


GKI designed its Challenge Context Analysis to mitigate some of the risks described above.  This multi-purpose research product unpacks a challenge from different angles: the national-level perspective, the sectoral dynamics at play, and the institutions already involved.  Innovators and their partners can use it to build a shared understanding of factors — social, economic, political — they should take into account as they pursue solutions.   Government actors and donors can use it to consider what structural changes and investments are needed to achieve progress.  Ultimately, this research product helps many types of stakeholders work smarter and partner more effectively in the face of tough, persistent challenges that straddle multiple systems layers.

Results / Outcomes

  • Produced 4 Challenge Context Analyses for each of our LINK programs
  • Created 9 Country-level Challenge Context Analyses on the challenge of post-harvest food loss in our role as a Social Innovation Lab for The Rockefeller Foundation Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative
  • Interviewed more than 25 experts during the research process
  • Trained partners across Africa, the US, and Asia in how to construct their own Challenge Context Analyses