93650 - Economics And Policy Of Innovation In Agriculture

Academic Year 2022/2023

  • Moduli: Matteo Zavalloni (Modulo 1) Davide Viaggi (Modulo 3) Luca Mulazzani (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 3) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Precise and Sustainable Agriculture (cod. 5705)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student possesses knowledge on: the economic effects of introducing innovative methods on farms; business strategic orientations, along with agricultural sustainability and development policies; policy tools for agricultural innovation and sustainability. The Graduate possesses the skills to: organize production factors and outline sustainability production guidelines, based on the technical-economic conditions of the territory and the market.

Course contents


Part 1: Externalities in agriculture: theory and practice

  • Part 1a: microeconomics of input management
    • Profit maximization
    • Optimal level of input use
  • Part1b: negative and positive externalities
    • damage function
    • social cost function
    • social benefit function
    • private vs social optimum input level use
  • Part 1c: regulation, taxes, subsidies
  • Part1d: externalities and public goods from agriculture

Part 2: Innovations, smart farming, sustainability

  • Fixed costs vs variable costs
  • Smart farming and adoption of innovations: effect on input level choices and on externalities
  • Variable rate technologies
  • Policies and the adoption of technologies

Part 3: Policies for innovations and sustainability in agriculture

  • A framework for the policy assessment
  • The Common Agricultural Policy
  • Policies for research and technology



  1. Understanding innovation
    1. Definitions (product/process innovation, technological/organizational innovation)
    2. Economic theories of innovation (Schumpeter, Solow-Swan, economic growth theories)
    3. Innovation indicators and success rates
    4. Case studies
  2. Innovation models and innovation ecosystems
    1. Linear and non-linear models of innovation: ‘technology push’ and ‘market pull’; technology and product lifecycle ‘S-curves’
    2. The agricultural innovation system perspective (Innovation eco-systems – AKIS; ‘Open innovation’, ‘innovation intermediaries’ and ‘Innovation Platforms’)
    3. The role of R&D activity
    4. Case studies
  3. From innovation adoption to innovation management
    1. Economic theories of innovation adoption (‘Diffusion of Innovation’, ‘Technology Acceptance Model’),
    2. Main drivers and barriers of innovation adoption – focus on Smart agriculture
    3. Management theories for innovation (‘Resource Based View’, ‘Dynamic Capabilities’) and Business Model innovation
    4. Case studies


Teaching material will be distributed by the teacher or retrieved online.

Main references MODULE 1

  • Slides and lecture notes
  • J. E. Stiglitz. Economics of the public sector. Chapter 4 «The role of the Public Sector»
  • Finger, Robert, Scott M. Swinton, Nadja El Benni, and Achim Walter. ‘Precision Farming at the Nexus of Agricultural Production and the Environment’. Annual Review of Resource Economics 11, no. 1 (2019): 313–35. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-resource-100518-093929

Main references MODULE 2

Technological innovation : an introduction’ by Schramm, Laurier L.

Berlin ; Boston : De Gruyter, [2018]

ISBN: 9783110429190 - 9783110438277

available at:

  • https://sol.unibo.it/SebinaOpac/resource/technological-innovation-an-introduction/UBO6045666?tabDoc=tabloceb
  • https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unibo/detail.action?docID=5157324

Teaching methods

Front lectures, seminars, team-work and assignments.

Assessment methods

Oral exam (2 questions, about 20 minutes)

Teaching tools

Computer, projector, internet connection, dashboard. All lessons are carried out with the support of slides

Office hours

See the website of Luca Mulazzani

See the website of Matteo Zavalloni

See the website of Davide Viaggi


Decent work and economic growth Industry, innovation and infrastructure

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.