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Knowledge for Development?

Knowledge for Development?

Kenneth King | Simon McGrath


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In 1996, the World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, declared that his organization would henceforth be 'the knowledge bank'. This marked the beginning of a new discourse of knowledge-based aid, which has spread rapidly across the development field. This book is the first detailed attempt to analyse this new discourse. Through an examination of four agencies -- the World Bank, the British Department for International Development, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency -- the book explores what this new approach to aid means in both theory and practice. It concludes that too much emphasis has been on developing capacity within agencies rather than addressing the expressed needs of Southern 'partners'. It also questions whether knowledge-based aid leads to greater agency certainty about what constitutes good development.
Kenneth King is Professor of International and Comparative Education and Director of the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh. He is the author or editor of several books , including 'Aid and Education' and 'Changing International Aid to Education' (edited with Lene Buchert). Simon McGrath has been a research fellow at the Centre of African Studies, and became Research Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria, South Africa in October 2002. Both authors have published extensively in African Studies and International Comparative Education and have been researching development cooperation for a number of years.
'In this excellent book the authors present a detailed analysis and a balanced assessment of the prospects for knowledge-based aid to achieve the goal of improving aid-effectiveness. Based on conceptual framework setting and a close examination of actual experience they reach the conclusion that success depends on reconceptualizing aid itself, in the direction of capacity building in poor countries.' Ravi Kanbur, Cornell University 'Knowledge management is popular. Aid agencies talk easily of sharing stories, communities of practice and double-loop learning. But are they ready to sacrifice a preoccupation with results and a concern to disseminate 'best-practice' - in favour of real partnership and mutual learning across divergent networks? McGrath and King are sceptical. Their case studies and their thesis challenge all of us involved in the production, sharing, and use of knowledge.' Simon Maxwell, Overseas Development Institute, and President of the Development Studies Association of the UK and Ireland

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover
Contents v
Acknowledgements vii
Abbreviations and acronyms ix
ONE: Researching knowledge-based aid 1
Setting the scene 1
Research questions 3
A new way of researching; a new way of working 3
The structure of the book 15
Notes 16
TWO: The new aid agenda 18
The changing fashions of development co-operation 18
Aid discourse at the start of the new millennium 25
Notes 30
THREE: Knowledge for development 32
The origins of knowledge-based aid 32
Knowledge-based aid 37
Alternative accounts of knowledge and development 49
A concluding comment 52
Notes 53
FOUR: The World Bank or the knowledge bank? 55
The discovery of knowledge-based aid in the World Bank 55
The World Bank’s older knowledge strategies 56
The World Bank’s vision of knowledge for development 58
Revising the strategy: the Ramphele review and a shifting focus for the knowledge bank 65
The new architecture of the knowledge bank 70
The knowledge bank in practice: assessing the extent of transformation 90
Notes 97
FIVE: From information management to knowledge sharing: DFID’s unfinished revolution 99
DFID’s knowledge discourses 99
DFID’s knowledge projects 109
DFID’s knowledge practices 118
How should we judge DFID’s approach to knowledge and development? 123
Notes 126
SIX: Knowledge, learning and capacity in the Swedish approach to development co-operation 130
Historical overview 130
Sida’s discourses of knowledge, learning and capacity 133
Sida as a generator of development knowledge 143
Sida’s initiatives to support knowledge, learning and capacity development 145
Knowledge and learning in practice 147
Conclusion 152
Notes 153
SEVEN: Experience, experts and knowledge in Japanese aid policy and practice 155
Japan’s own experience for development 156
Japan’s multiple external sources of development expertise 163
Sources of policy knowledge in Japanese development assistance 170
Knowledge-sharing initiatives in a culture of valuing experience 173
Knowledge management in JICA: a new approach 176
Other mechanisms for sharing development knowledge 186
Conclusion on sharing expertise for development 189
Notes 190
EIGHT: Conclusions and implications for knowledge, aid and development 196
Where does knowledge-based aid come from, and is it just a passing fashion? 196
Does knowledge-based aid work? 197
Knowledge-based aid or learning-led development? 208
Knowledge-based aid and knowledge, aid and development: some concluding thoughts 209
Bibliography 213
Index 230