Development Cooperation Handbook/Learning and Knowledge Management

Learning and Knowledge Management

We said before that this handbook is a knowledge sharing platform and that dialogue enables the articulation of learning. Here we will try to better define what knowledge is and how far it can be collected and exchanged.

The key question: is knowledge something we have? Or is it us, what we are?  Somehow knowledge is at the centre of both, as we acquire knowledge from our interactions with the environment and from the acquired knowledge, we become aware of who we are and what constitutes the environment in which we live.

At the core of our awareness is our unitary vision of ourselves and the world, which we call "our knowledge of reality". Many particular experiences and visions have contributed to creating this unitary vision that we can then disassemble and subdivide the whole into more or less well-defined components that we call specific knowledge objects.

So, knowledge is exclusively ours because it is inside and produced by us (someone will even say that knowledge is us); there is no physical place within ourselves where we can store it. However, human beings frame their visions in constant consultation and comparison with the vision of others and learn from each other. In this sense, we can say that "we transmit knowledge", even if it would be more correct to say that we transmit our account of what we have learned so that others can avail of this information to compare with what they believe and have learned so as the enrich and expand their knowledge.

The transmission of information enables wider and deeper knowledge among colleagues, which is the clue to the processes of reciprocal "empowerment". We empower each other only as much as we are interested in cooperating and synergising. On the contrary, whenever we feel rivalry and hostility, we try to hide what we know from each other or even deliberately misinform others so that their knowledge becomes weaker and confused.

The term "knowledge management" is relatively recent and is related to the process of learning and transmission of memory within organizations. Knowledge, in this sense, is one of the fundamental assets of any organization, but since it is "stored" in employees rather then in organization's safe or cupboards, organizations try to use various processes and tools to organize, record, store and retrieve knowledge. As we move upscale from organisational assets to the asset of a consortium or a partnership, then "knowledge management" starts becoming a process for sharing information, skills and expertise amongst different organizations and different stakeholders.

Development actors recognize that knowledge constitutes an essential resource for development and that knowledge-sharing is essential for networking and advocacy. However, information-sharing constitutes a major challenge because many organizations consider their specialized know-how as strategic assets and want to maintain their competitive advantage over others in fund raising.

Robert Reid, Knowledge (1896). Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

At the same time, knowledge-sharing is an essential requisite for advocacy activities and policy coherence for development. Organisations need to give more importance and emphasis to collecting, compiling, organizing and sharing knowledge, experiences and Good Practices. Developing training curricula, manuals, and learning materials need to be more widely disseminated and shared with relevant government and other agencies so as to encourage mainstreaming of these resources. This activity could include, among others, codifying and demonstrating the efficacy of specific methodological approaches and providing clues and advice to prevent the repetition of unsuccessful practices.

This handbook, along with the linked audiovisual media, is a testimony of the beauty and the power of knowledge sharing.

In this section, we share some concepts and processes that we have been testing in order to manage the knowledge contained in this handbook.

Subsections of this chapter


See also


 Sharing knowledge and resources

  In other sections of this handbook

 The boss is never happy (especially if it is a project manager)

  On Wikipedia

On other Wikibooks

  Knowledge Management Cases in Asia

Sri Vidya Yantra