Gsdrc Helpdesk Connecting Knowledges

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Connecting knowledges: interventions aimed at “bridging” different worlds of knowledge …

Connecting knowledges: interventions aimed at “bridging” different worlds of knowledge

Presentation by Andrew McDevitt, IDS (UK)) at the Locating the Power of the In-Between conference July 08

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Transcript

  • 1.
    • Connecting Knowledges
    • The GSDRC Research Helpdesk
    • Andy McDevitt
    • Governance and Social Development Resource Centre
    • July 2008
  • 2. Introduction
    • The helpdesk service
    • Connecting knowledges
    • Evidence of Impact
    • Implications and challenges
  • 3. The helpdesk service
    • Helpdesk queries are two-day desk-based research assignments at short notice (just-in-time research)
    • Department for International Development (DFID) adviser submits a query and the purpose.
    • We synthesise the key issues, identify relevant literature and gather comments from academics and practitioners
    • Bridge between research and policy / practice
    • Context:
    • To support project design and programming
    • To inform thinking on emerging/unfamiliar issues
    • To feed into strategy/policy
    • To prepare for country visits, meetings, conferences, ministerial briefings, multi/bilateral discussions etc.
  • 4. Connecting knowledges
    • 1) Different forms of knowledge
    • 2) Different areas of knowledge
    • 3) Connecting experiences (network query service)
  • 5.
    • 1) Different forms of knowledge:
    • Helpdesk queries use evidence–based knowledge , ranging from theory to best practice, case studies and lessons learned
    • Tacit knowledge (TK) helps frame debates and can be useful in bringing themes together: highlighting links and ‘decompartmentalising’ issues
    • TK can challenge conventional thought not addressed in the literature
    • But, TK cannot be referenced and it can be difficult to assess impact
    • Bridging the two provides invaluable insights
  • 6.
    • 2) Different areas of knowledge
    • Bridging thematic areas (a)
    • A range of contexts (b)
    • Applying theory to new areas (c)
    • Different technical aspects, terminologies and understandings of the issues present a challenge
    • Often literature addresses issues in isolation
    • Examples of queries:
    • (a) “Please provide key readings on the political and institutional impacts of climate change on conflict.”
    • (b) “What are the key issues relating to HIV/AIDS response in immediate post-conflict / humanitarian emergency contexts?”
    • (c) “Identify literature on the application of game theory motivations to explain the outcomes of peace processes/ agreements.”
  • 7.
    • 3) Connecting experience: the network query service (discontinued)
    • Connecting institutional memory of DFID
    • Advisers learning from experience of colleagues
    • Challenge of providing an internal knowledge management service from the outside
    • Example :
    • “ What experience does DFID have of strengthening local government capacity to deliver services particularly in water and sanitation services? Can advisers point to any specific examples of ongoing or successful work?”
  • 8. Evidence of Impact
    • From the GSDRC’s mid-term Review, November 2007:
    • “ The helpdesk function ….. is highly valued for the contribution it makes to policy development locally and globally, and for improving the delivery of operational programmes in partner countries. There were 100 requests for the two-day rapid research facility in a twelve month period with a satisfaction rate of 94% (users responding to the survey that had used the helpdesk).”
    • Feedback from DFID user:
    • “ The helpdesk is a useful first point of call for policy questions; two comprehensive surveys of the literature on the governance dimensions of climate change fed into the preparation of a think piece on climate change adaptation which received wide attention.”
  • 9. Implications and challenges
    • Enabling a two-way flow of information
    • Feedback and outcomes
    • Knowledge sharing
    • Generalists or specialists?
    • KM ‘specialists’
    • holistic approach
    • Positioning ourselves as info-mediaries
    • Example:
    • “ What are the underlying political economy factors which motivate developed countries to provide aid and promote international development?”