Knowledge sharing in communities of practice in international development


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A presentation made on 15 May 2014 at the Congresso Internacional EDO 2014 concerning communities of practice in international development, highlighting examples for other sectors. Presented examples of Dgroups and KM4Dev.

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Knowledge sharing in communities of practice in international development

  1. 1. Knowledge sharing in communities of practice in international development Lessons for other sectors? Sarah Cummings, Knowledge Ecologist EDO International Conference III 15 May 2014
  2. 2. International development…
  3. 3. Introduce myself Development is important and challenging field Development is embracing communities of practice One case Evidence Lessons for others sectors? The story…
  4. 4. ‘Development’ field since 1983 Practitioner-researcher with focus on information and knowledge with consultancies, research and other activities Two of the communities of practice: I’m a active member Paper and presentation are based on two papers but also on practice experience Own research: academic journals dominated by key institutions in UK, USA and a few other countries Editor of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal Introducing myself…
  5. 5. Knowledge Ecologist… Ecology, not an economy Holistic: collaboration, cooperation and coordination ‘Social’ not biological ecology Relationships and connection
  6. 6. 2,415 communities 191,318 registered users 460,000 email messages each day 50% exchanged with and within African countries Shared values Dgroups
  7. 7. Dgroups
  8. 8. Measured as Official Development Assistance (ODA) USD 125,600 million in 2012 Equivalent to global wine sales/China’s IT exports 0.29 of combined Gross National Income (GNI) of OECD countries Spain: USD 4000 million in 2011 Excludes non-OECD countries: China Excludes ‘new’ actors: Gates Foundation Development is important because…
  9. 9. Development is important because…
  10. 10. Development is important… Slide 3
  11. 11. Challenges facing development… Professional diversity
  12. 12. Challenges facing development… Cultural diversity
  13. 13. Linguistic diversity: English, Spanish, French, but also vast number of languages are the ‘grassroots’ Technological diversity Multiple knowledges Challenges facing development Other diversity
  14. 14. … development efforts often transcend organizations, professional constituencies, and geographical boundaries, making knowledge management increasingly relevant because of its power to cross these divides. Challenges facing development
  15. 15. No longer a heuristic but now a ‘tool’ to promote learning (Johnson 2007) Intentional communities and non-intentional (spontaneous) communities Acting as effective bridges between diverse professional domains: policy and practice (Hearn and White 2009) CoPs in development
  16. 16. Communities of ideas Formal knowledge networks Virtual teams Virtual knowledge communities Thematic groups Thematic networks Communities in development
  17. 17. Communities of practice • Groups of people who interact regularly and who share a practice (and a passion) The domain The community The practice … Governance ….Technology
  18. 18. Knowledge Management for Development Community Started in 2000 Information and knowledge professionals, academics, and consultants Intentional and non-intentional phases Approx. 2000 members Case: KM4Dev
  19. 19. KM4Dev: The domain International development Knowledge management Health – agriculture – gender – human rights Grassroots to ministries Kemly Camacho, Costa Rica
  20. 20. Professionals over the world Online and face to face Sub-communities KM4Dev: the community
  21. 21. I feel so moved by all the positive reactions I received every day since I posted my request. Just as if I have numerous secret hidden friends ready to give a hand ! It's a feeling not easy to express; the kind of strength you sense when you're not alone and that makes you dare and never afraid of taking new challenges... merci beaucoup. Yennenga Kompaoré, Burkina Faso
  22. 22. Knowledge management Knowledge sharing Communities of practice Organizational KM Indigenous knowledge processes KM4Dev: The practice
  23. 23. Voluntary basis Voluntary core group Wiki which details all meetings and process Efforts to be transparent KM4Dev: Governance
  24. 24. A Dgroups with 1932 members Ning website Open Journal Systems Wiki KM4Dev: Technology
  25. 25. …a global network of development agents who share the idea that knowledge can contribute to the development of poor countries and groups in a disadvantaged situation. …a cognitive bridge for development agents worldwide.. … KM4Dev has shaped the flow of knowledge among the members of the net. …a high level of efficiency, providing reliable answers to development agents at a daily basis almost in real time, and at very low costs. Sebastiao Ferreira , Peru
  26. 26. International development is an important area of work Faces many challenges Communities of practice are seen as the solution to many of these challenges But what is the evidence…. The story so far…
  27. 27. Facilitate exchange of information and knowledge Creation of new knowledge Improve collaboration, coordination and cooperation Facilitate contact across North-South divides Bridging development divides in terms of profession between practitioners, researchers and policymakers Crossing the digital divides Impact at the level of project and programmes, and organizational change Evidence
  28. 28. Yes, [communities of practice] really have broadened the way people perceive and understand their own organization. Now staff members don’t just refer to their own experience but have a more regional perspective . They have also facilitated the development of SNV as a horizontal organization and in reducing hierarchy. It has also facilitated SNV as a matrix organization. Robin van Kippersluis, The Netherlands
  29. 29. Not able to cross linguistic divides Not able to include beneficiaries Often under the radar But…
  30. 30. Think about joint platforms with other organizations Be ambitious but not too ambitious Attention for governance and power issues Attention for politics Lessons for other sectors?
  31. 31. Development is important and challenging field Development is embracing communities of practice Evidence Lessons for others sectors? …the story
  32. 32. In general, there is a trend to associate communities of practice with [social media] which means that the sociological and cultural aspects are left aside. Camilo Villa, Colombia, 15 May 2014
  33. 33. An example of work on indigenous knowledge with the Mapuche people in Chile