Energy market system networks, including market opportunity groups (MOGs), interest forums and lead firms can all play important roles in disseminating knowledge to a wide range of actors for uptake at scale, if facilitated effectively.
Action: Facilitators can leverage the potential that these networks to amplify the outreach, influence and clarity of messages that can transform the wider market system, through using the template in Annex 10. This helps identify the main types of knowledge that relate to each group, as well as their knowledge dissemination activities and communication methods. It is important for the group of market actors who are leading the knowledge dissemination to work closely with these 3 groups to help leverage them to disseminate the knowledge at scale throughout the market system.
Leveraging Market Opportunity Groups (MOGs) +
These are fundamental for poverty reduction at scale and to increase the inclusiveness of the system.
- Allow marginalised actors to elect their representatives to the market opportunity groups to increase trust levels and enhance the ability of the MOGs to influence their constituencies. However, make sure that the MOG has a good mix of translators, connectors and opinion-makers to influence not only their peers but also other market actors if possible.
- Meet regularly with the members of the MOGs to monitor how they are using the knowledge circulated and produced in the workshops to mobilise their constituencies. Assist them to package and communicate effectively the agreements, ideas, feedback or proposals from their constituencies into interest forums.
- Find opportunities to talk with their peers or constituencies to carry out formal or informal “satisfaction checks”. Informal conversations provide an idea of how well the MOG members are managing to mobilise or listen to their peers. Discuss with the MOG ideas to improve the feedback process.
- Be sensitive to power dynamics or imbalances created by the MOG. By definition these groups are exclusive in the sense that only a few can participate and there are always risks of them becoming cliques or elites. These power imbalances can hamper the communication and mobilisation processes and therefore the scale of impact.
Leveraging interest forums +
The main characteristic of interest forums within the context of knowledge dissemination is diversity. These spaces include a wide range of public and private market actors who exchange between them a wide range of visions, opinions and experiences. As the process evolves, it is very common to see members of the interest forums taking new knowledge circulated or constructed in the market mapping workshops to other actors beyond the direct influence of the facilitator. Such actors can be subordinates, colleagues, peers or trusted friends upon, which the members of the interest forum have a relatively high level of credibility and influence. In other words, interest forums take new knowledge from one point of the system to another.
When planning the forum’s meetings, facilitators need to reflect on the actors who are influential and relevant in the production, transformation, transfer and use of knowledge. They may not need to have all these actors participating from the very beginning, but they need to inform them about evidence of success on the issues that matter to them, or to the actors beyond the facilitator’s reach.
Leveraging lead firms +
Figure 4 Communication Potential for Different Sizes of Lead Firms
It is also important for facilitators to keep in mind that the behaviour of lead firms can shift between coordination, collaboration and competition at different stages during the roadmap process. The following are recommendations that can help facilitators to leverage each type of behaviour to maximise the dissemination of knowledge across the system:
- Coordination is when actors do things on their own but which are determined by the actions of the others. Coordination is mainly based on timing. Firms can decide to launch products or communicate information at the same time. They can also accelerate or delay the launch of products or services to maximise visibility and profitability relative to their competitors.
- Synchronisation or sequencing of messages to produce a larger effect or visibility, such as several cookstove companies launching their products in neighbouring areas, to help raise awareness collectively.
- Technical, social or market research undertaken in complementary or synergic issues to avoid replication of efforts. Collaboration takes place when firms decide to work together and invest time, expertise and/or funds to achieve their goals, solve problems, avoid threats or exploit opportunities that they would not be able to achieve, solve, avoid or exploit on their own.
- Pooling of funds to access mass media (e.g. for information or educational campaigns), promote basic or applied research of hired or in-house experts to train their providers, etc.
- Pooling of expertise. Of particular importance in the roadmap process is the training of marginalised market chain actors to allow them to start selling to other companies if they improve their quality, quantity and reliability. Coordination may be possible as long as intellectual property or industrial secrets that generate competitive advantages are not at risk. Lead firms may be convinced to share the general aspects of innovative and successful business models, but not details about their back-end operations (e.g. how they manage their clients’ database or financial processes, or how they process raw materials).
- Competition of firms doing marketing campaigns of similar products or services creates repetition of ideas that can contribute to changes in behaviour of marginalised producers, consumers and other key market actors.
- Competing firms investing in training and loyalty-building programmes for marginalised producers to capture some or all of their produce.