illustration Mourad Hannachi, a catalyst for collective dynamism
© INRAE E. Régnier

Society and regional strategies 5 min

Mourad Hannachi, a catalyst for collective dynamism

Research Scientist at INRAE since 2013, Mourad Hannachi works on coopetition, a combination of cooperation and competition, and on common goods.

Published on 26 January 2016

An agricultural engineer who qualified from the National Agricultural Institute in Algiers, Mourad Hannachi is currently a Research Scientist at INRAE where he specialises in the management sciences in the INRAE-AgroParisTech Joint Research Unit - Science for Action and Sustainable Development: Activities, Products, Territories.  His career path to date is worth discovering.  

Coopetition for the common good

Because he felt that "feeding the world" is a problem of resource sharing rather than one of resources, soon after qualifying Mourad Hannachi turned towards the economic and social sciences.  This new area has allowed him to study human relationships in terms of managing common goods at the scale of sectors and territories.  How can a collective resource be managed when it is competing actors who hold all the cards?  Cooperating while being in competition for a common good, and the concepts of "coopetition" and "common goods" have since provided the foundations for Mourad's research in recent years.

From technical innovation to organisational innovations

During his PhD thesis in management sciences, Mourad looked first of all at the socio-economic impacts of introducing GM organisms into different French agricultural production sectors and regions.  His work enabled the development of collective management scenarios at a territorial scale that could feed thinking in other areas, for example: the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable management of varietal resistance or reducing the use of pesticides.

In the context of subsequent post-doctoral attachments in the INRA-ENSAT Joint Research Unit for Agrosystems and Territorial Development, and then at the Breeding Institute, he was able to study the impact of genomic selection on the organisation and behaviour of actors in breeding and agriculture. In a relational landscape that has been modified recently by the introduction of genomics and disengagement of the State, Mourad has thus been able to help insemination cooperatives to identify areas where they can compete or, on the contrary, cooperate.

At present, in terms of varietal resistance - often too short-lived - and plant health products - often criticised - Mourad is now proposing a new view on the health of plants, which should be considered as a common good that requires collective management. While in his previous case studies he observed the emergence of coopetition, in this instance he is focusing on encouraging its emergence, seeking to establish new rules and their acceptance by all stakeholders.

He has already taken up this challenge regarding a variety of projects, which include:

  • GESTER - Territorial management of disease resistance in response to the new constraints affecting pesticide use on arable crops, and WHEATAMIX  - Increasing genetic diversity on wheat plots to enhance the multifunctionality and sustainability of production in the Paris region (both funded by the French National Research Agency);
  • SMaCH FONDU - Territorial strategies for the sustainable use of anti-fungal agents, and SMaCH Riz éternel - Sustainability of resistance in a traditional cropping system: study of the Yuanyang rice terraces in China (supported by INRA's SMaCH metaprogramme).

The sublimation of social issues in response to imperfect techniques

In his working environment, Mourad Hannachi contributes to the development of collective solidarities and dynamics.

As well as his research topics and interactions with his close colleagues, he contributes as a member of staff representation bodies at INRA, the Joint Administrative Committees which offer a forum for representation and dialogue and are responsible for providing support in individual cases and examining changes to working conditions and collective activities within the Institute.

And together with some of his colleagues, he was a founder member of the "Lost Doctoral Students and Post-Docs Society", a cosmopolitan and informal group of young scientists from the Thiverval-Grignon Centre that meets once a month for a drink and conversation about their everyday activities.

Mourad Hannachi explains "The more we search, the more we may get lost.  Others can help us find our way again..."

And tomorrow…

Mourad Hannachi is already thinking of the future, and talks enthusiastically about his next field survey that will take him to the Yunnan province of China, the birthplace of rice cultivation and a UNESCO heritage site.  He is planning new partnerships to develop new projects or explore new skills, and thinking about how he can contribute to a professional environment that is calm and conducive to research and an asset to society.

A well-rounded career already marked by numerous publications and achievements that is still ready for new challenges.


Catherine Foucaudtranslated by Vicky Hawken


Mourad Hannachi Joint Research Unit for Activities, Products, Territories