Today, IKM Emergent organised a Roundtable in the Open Space at lunch time. Although we didn’t get many participants, they made up for lack of numbers with their quality and they included some of the cream of the KM4Dev community. We discussed and’brainstormed about the implications of all the knowledge initiatives presented at the Share Fair for the broader development sector. In fact, we discussed the implications for how we do development. Although there was general agreement that there were indeed implications for this – which is what Peter Ballantyne predicted! – our discussion was broad ranging:
- Whether to mainstream knowledge management within organisations or to put it into the hands of knowledge management specialist staff?Our general conclusions was that mainstreaming and drivers were needed and that one strategy without the other might not work.
- As we had heard much at the Share Fair, power issues hinder knowledge sharing and the work of knowledge networks. Effective knowledge-based approaches in the future might lead to flatter, less hierarchical organisations.
- The difference in status between researchers (higher) and knowledge managers (low) was not conducive to knowledge sharing. In some cases, support staff in the role of communications or knowledge sharing were seen as a ‘scourge’. Only when they become part of the core business were the accepted by more senior staff.
- Institutional structures and the emphasis of researchers needing to publish in peer-reviewed journals did not necessarily support the development role of knowledge.
- Development research in all institutions should have a development focus although that might require changing of the institutional structure funding development research.
- Management, researchers, support staff and field offices within an organisation will have different ideas about and understanding of knowledge management. An effective organisational strategy will need to recognise the different layers within an organisation.