What kind of structural organisation does your project have, or do you want your project to have?

Every organisation has a different definition for the terms bottom-up and top-down. The term bottom-up is a popular buzzword, and is often used incorrectly.

We looked at all the definitions, and the ways these structures are implemented, and came up with the optimal definitions.

Top-down project structure:
There is a management hierarchy in place in all projects, companies, organisations and professions. In any position there are usually several of these at play at once.

Here are some simplified examples of the 'chain-of-command' in top-down systems.

The Boss -> Management --> Employees
The EU --> Policy-makers --> Farmers
The Funding Committees --> The Scientific Community --> Researcher

Traditionally these are non-flexible hierarchies used for organising and managing a business, organisation or project and follow these steps:

1. Decisions are made at the top
2. Commands are sent down the hierarchy to those at operational level at the "bottom"
3. Operational level (bottom) implements commands

Top-down organisation is efficient, standardized and the traditional way to structure a project, but there are major downsides to having a rigid top-down system. Often individuals at the "top" do not understand:

1. how the operational level functions
2. the processes carried out by the operational level
3. the practical implications of the decisions they make

This leads to poor or ill-informed decisions which are inefficient and make the jobs of those working at the operational level harder.

Top-down systems are flawed by one-way communication, an order sent down the hierarchy with no opportunity for feedback.

Communication should always be a two-way cycle, all parties should participate.

The operational level have crucial knowledge which should be used when making decisions, in top-down systems this knowledge is wasted.

Bottom-up project structure:
Those working at the operational level have unique knowledge on:

> local conditions
> local and implementation challenges
> practical applications

This knowledge is crucial to making good decisions.

In bottom-up systems this knowledge is used define project aims and to make important decisions. In this way the most regionally, locally and practically suitable solutions are reached.

The same participants are involved, but different roles of each stakeholder are required.

The people best qualified to design an agri-environmental project are those who would end up implementing it.

1. You know your region, your neighbours and the local issues being faced on your farm best.
2. Agri-environmental projects designed and initiated by you will be more suitable to your specific situation.
3. An agri-environmental project designed by you is more likely to be successful, and both environmentally and economically beneficial.
4. An agri-environmental project initiated and driven by you is more likely to be accepted by the local community.

Remember top-down structure is the standard practise, this means everyone is used their traditional top-down roles and to flawed one-way communication. Thus it can be hard to set up healthy two-way communication, and for project partners to take on a new role.

More information on top-down and bottom-up structured projects can be found in the attached pdf 'Communication_in_bottom-up_Agri-environmental_projects'.
More information on Two-way Communication can be found below