KM4D stretching its wings

Good news for KM4D as a formal discipline. Emerging from under the wings of big sisters KM and development science, it is starting to establish itself as a field in its own right. Over the past year, knowledge management for development has been increasingly making its appearance in academia. Various people* are conducting post-doctoral research on various KM4D related topics, which will help generate some in-depth insight into the field. But moreover, KM4D is being taught at undergraduate, graduate and even postgraduate level as a specific course, module, tutorial or lecture. At an academic level, the topic covers a broad array of disciplines – ranging from development studies, geography, medicine, business administration, management studies and cross cutting fields. This may contribute to a new generation of well-informed, broadly oriented young professionals and researchers who have the ability to think out of their academic box, and beyond borders… And should help build up concrete evidence for policymakers and decision-makers, of the added value and importance of knowledge to development. Add to this the multi-level IKM Emergent programme, the KM4D Journal, which has published over 100 contributions since its inception, and we see increasing evidence that a formal scientific domain is slowly emerging from the practice.

minerva, Auguste Rodin (1905-07)
Minerva, Auguste Rodin (1905-07)

* [current research being undertaken by Ben Ramamlingam, Lorraine Mancey, Sarah Cummings, Julie Ferguson. Anyone else??? Let us know!]

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3 Responses

  1. I agree with you that this is an important development – there really seems to be trend. How we can make sure that this is not a ‘flash in a pan’? As you mention in the post, I think the KM4D Journal has had a role in making sure that this emergent ‘formal discipline’ becomes more visible. Do you have any ideas about what other things we can do to reinforce the trend?
    Sarah

  2. First, I think precisely because it is being introduced as part of such a broad variety of fields, it is establishing itself as a multi-disciplinary topic. Because of this, a wide group of people will see the relevance of KM4D, and not just the ‘in-crowd’ who have been working on this for a long time.

    Second, programmes such as IKM Emergent are aimed at – and involving – policy makers and development decision makers; again, not only those directly concerned with KM4D. Therefore the discipline has a good chance of being rooted more firmly in numerous grounds at once, and this could avoid the danger of being dismissed as ‘flash in the pan’.

    Third, I think the fact that KM4D is an emergent field does build its case as something that is here to stay: it arose from practice in response to a real need among development practicioners, and from there attracted attention in more ‘formal’ knowledge arenas and from prominent KM and development people, ultimately establishing itself in journals and in universities. Because of this emergent character, it has a strong basis (more than if it were ‘imposed’ top-down in practice, or invented in academic theory, as it were).

    That being said, I do think that a number of serious issues will need to be addressed by the discipline. For instance, integration at a strategic level, rather than an operational level – i.e. getting beyond a ‘tools’ orientation; acknowledgment and promotion of ‘multiple knowledges’, i.e. overcoming Western-biased paradigms; and generating more empirical evidence of the value of KM4D.

  3. […] is a discipline unto itself, whether it’s going up in the world or fading off, or it’s sprouting branches, or converging with “learning”… look a bit like spending time gazing at […]

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