Journal update 1: KM4D and innovation systems

The May issue of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal was on the subject of Beyond the conventional boundaries of knowledge management: navigating the emergent pathways of learning and innovation for international development with Guest Editors, Laurens Klerkx, Laxmi Prasad Pant and Cees Leeuwis. It comprises 6 articles and one community note:

Knowledge management for pro-poor innovation: the Papa Andina case
Douglas Horton, Graham Thiele, Rolando Oros, Jorge Andrade-Piedra, Claudio Velasco, André Devaux
Development knowledge ecology: metaphors and meanings
Sarah Cummings, Mike Powell, Jaap Pels

One of the objectives of the journal when it was started in 2005 was ‘facilitating cross-fertilization between knowledge management and related fields’ by acting as a ‘broad church’ (Ferguson and Cummings 2005, unpublished). Indeed, one of the objectives was to bring the approaches of innovation management/systems for development (IM4Dev) and knowledge management for development (KM4D) closer together so that they could better inform each other although, in the language that we had available to us in 2005, we called this agricultural knowledge systems rather than IM4Dev or innovation systems. To quote from one of the unpublished background documents on reasons for starting the journal:

It will aim to facilitate cross-fertilization between knowledge management and related fields: for example information management, but also with other development-related approaches: agricultural knowledge systems, soft systems research, and other relevant ‘traditions’.

The rationale for bringing these two approaches closer together was that we thought at the time, intuitively, that KM4D could benefit from the insights of an approach which was grounded in development and which we had also identified as home-grown knowledge management. It is also fascinating to read in the Editorial how the different phases in IM4Dev correspond with the different generations of KM4D and that the Guest Editors consider that the approaches are complementary:

As becomes clear from the several articles, the perspectives of KM4D and IM4Dev do not seem that far apart, and have arrived for example at a similar understanding of the importance and influence of the institutional context for learning and innovation. They are complementary, and could benefit from further integration. Given their explicit focus on knowledge management, KM4D perspectives can help better understand the knowledge sharing and learning process that is crucial to innovation, and which underlies many of the other functions crucial to innovation such as lobbying, and the creation of an enabling environment. IM4Dev perspectives, with their attention to other resources than knowledge needed to feed the innovation process and create an enabling environment, broaden the view on the settings in which knowledge management aims to make a contribution.

One of the advantages of the IM4Dev approach is that it is focused outside organisations while one of the limitations of KM4D has been that, because it comes originally from the private sector, it was originally focused on knowledge inside organisations. Indeed, one of the original criticisms of knowledge-based aid from Kenneth King (2000, cited in Knowledge management: development strategy or business strategy? in 2001, p. 163) was:

The agencies have not started with the dramatic knowledge deficits of the South, nor with the key question of how knowledge management could assist knowledge development in the South. A continuation along their current trajectory will arguably be counter-productive; it will make agencies more certain of what they themselves have learnt, and more enthusiastic that others should share their insights, once they have been systematised.

IM4Dev, and the approaches it encompasses will help us to counteract this tendency which is still visible 11 years later.

PS Please note that I’m consciously using KM4D for the field, to differentiate it from the all important, and very much related KM4Dev community.

Evaluation revisited II: complexity and evaluation in a cleft stick?


We are squeezed to death, between the two sides of that sort of alternative which is commonly called a cleft stick.
(William Cowper, 1782)

In the second of my personal reflections on the Evaluation revisited conference which took place in May 2010 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, I consider the relationship between complexity and evaluation, particularly theory and practice, and talk about the cartoonist, present at the conference. Continue reading

IKM-relevant? Annual programme meeting, days 2 and 3

After exploring and discussing (on day 1) the various pieces of research work that have been undertaken in IKM-Emergent until now, the second day of the workshop started with a world café and continued with a ‘birds of a feather session’ (a marketplace / less-open space method) where we explored some ideas for the end of the programme and a potential IKM-Emergent 2 programme. The last day of the programme put us in action planning mode around crucial activities.

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IKM-convergent? Annual programme meeting, Wageningen, day 1

A while back I blogged about the IKM-Emergent programme and its tendency to dispersion.

The programme has evolved since then and a number of things are coalescing on this first day of the all-peeps IKM-Emergent  workshop (which brings together the three working groups, but also a number of new guests that are working on issues related to IKM-E and/or that will be working for the programme from now on).

IKM participants getting their heads around common issues
IKM participants getting their heads around common issues

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Workshop on emerging research paradigms

How do you plan and manage a research programme if you do not know what the outcomes will be? With great difficulty is the answer, particularly in the current climate where predictability is usually expected and measured. Such expectations can impose real constraints on research processes which aim to interact with and encourage the participation of other stakeholders. They can inhibit the identification and pursuit of news ideas which emerge as the research progresses.

These issues were discussed by a group of researchers, research intermediaries and research policy makers at a workshop in Trinity Hall, Cambridge on 17-18 September 2009. The workshop was convened by IKM Emergent, the Information Systems research group of the Judge Business School and by the Bridging the Digital Divide Group, a consortium of UK funded ICT4D projects whose experiences prompted the initial reflection on these issues. Continue reading

Measurement of knowledge management

Yesterday afternoon, together with a Context colleague Peter Das, I went to a knowledge cafe (kennis cafe) on the measurement of knowledge management. It was organised by the Centre for Research in Intellectual Capital (Kenniskring) of InHolland University for Applied Sciences. There were two presentations: one of a research project by Guy Mestrini to measure the value creation  in Fokker Stork; and another by Christiaan Stam on different approaches to measuring knowledge processes.  Both of these were very interesting and were followed by a world cafe to discuss the main issue: how to measure knowledge management initiatives. Continue reading

Julie talks open access…

On 27 September 2007, Julie made a presentation  to the Information Management Working Group of EADI on the subject of open access related to the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. Click here to watch the video