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Developing knowledge, sharing knowledge , acquiring knowledgeWhat does knowledge development imply for an organization as the ICCO-Cooperative?Within the ICCO Cooperative knowledge development is seen as the outcome of learning processes. Learning processes that seek to make explicit what knowledge holders have as tacit and as explicit knowledge. Knowledge holders are people in our own organisations, in our partner organisations and amongst the people with whom and for whom we work. We see learning processes as presented in the slide: by Ken Wilbur as a process that generates knowledge based on experience and learning Knowledge development takes place most effectively if it is based on your own involvement , based on your own experiences. That is why it is so difficult to share good practices and knowledge generated in one context in another context . Only when other people have experiences in which they incorporate the knowledge of others it becomes their own knowledge and their own best practice.Knowledge development is therefore an active construction process.
What is knowledge?Knowledge in our understanding is the utilization of information that a person or a group of people has gained through study , reflection and experience into changed practice. Knowledge is therefore not just a cognitive process. Knowledge only become knowledge if it can be used , if it has usage value, if it makes “sense” in the reality of a person’s life if it has the quality of ‘insights gained’.
What does this understanding of knowledge and how knowledge is developed in practice imply for how we in ICCO try to promote knowledge development and why we try to promote knowledge development.Participatory practiceIn the work we do with the beneficiary groups through our partner organisations, we adopt a participatory knowledge development practice.This is essentially built on Kolb’s learning cycle.Starting from experiences of farmers, women producers, women peace-builders etc they jointly establish in reflection processes what they need and want to improve . How they can acquire the information that will help them improving their own situation in combination with their existing knowledge and practices. The additional information is often brokered and made accessible via the partner organisations. Additional information that can be based on research done by knowledge institutions.
Our partner organisations, accompany these participatory knowledge and capacity development processes. But they also go through comparable learning cycles of their own: asking themselves: what are our experiences in the work that we do, what do we learn from this, which information do we need to improve our knowledge and practice, and how do we get additional information? This additional information comes from sharing of information with :other organisations, knowledge holders, research institutes and access to publications and as ICCO we playa contributing role in this as broker to and providing access to information to partner organisations.
ICCO itself goes through a comparable learning cycle. Team reflection sessions, action learning processes, support to formal research, communities of learning using e-based communication tools such as the portal and wiki’s and programme evaluations are but some of the ways in which ICCO tries to learn and develop knowledge in our work. Of course we also develop relations with Universities and knowledge centers and networks in the Regions and countries in which we work. These contacts are very important in our knowledge brokering role towards our partners.As ICCO we also contribute to learning in the international cooperation sector. We are a member of many relevant learning and exchange networks, we have working relations with Universities , with private sector actorstake part in BUZA and Partos related platforms and research initiatives such as the SCHOKLAND agreements we provide internship positions for masters students and post-master students. We document our own experiences in studies and reports that we share widely through the KIT Search4Dev and via our digital portals.Crucial in the way we as ICCO see knowledge development is that is always related to our own and the practices of our partners. Linking to practice and experience and taking these as the basis and the ultimate measure of effective knowledge development.
I will now share some examples of knowledge development supported by ICCOThe first is a PhD research on Interactions between citizen and local government in Northern Uganda. Enhancing civic engagement after violent conflict. This PhD research by Marjoke van Oostrom was funded and accompanied by HIVOS and ICCO In cooperation with the IDS Democracy programme in Sussex UK. For ICCO this research was relevant because it offered an opportunity to systematize and develop further the experiences of grassroots groups in the participation in post-conflict grassroots democratic processes.in particular in Uganda where ICCO has been partnering with many organisations that work in post-conflict situations in particular in Northern Uganda and the Karamoja region This research not only resulted in a published dissertation document but also in articles in opinion-making media, films and radio programmes. Thereby reaching a far wider audience than the traditional academic community.
The second example is Research on developing partnerships for inclusive value chain developmentIn 2009-2010 ICCO participated with several universities : the University of Amsterdam, Maastricht Business School and Erasmus University ( Later the PRC) in a research (ECSAD) into the factors that contribute to good partnerships for developing value chains. The research took place in West-Africa: Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana and concentrated on three value chain partnerships: Organic Cotton , Sorghum for beer production and Shea butter. The researchers did a participatory field based research, that had several research products: Models for partnerships in Value Chain development and a manual for partnership development in Value Chains. During the research researchers interacted on a regular basis with staff of ICCO and partner organisations in the Fair Economic Development Programme and other INGO’s Capacity development workshops on the manual to staff of ICCO and partner organisations were also part of this knowledge development process . They also communicated the published results of their research quite widely. Their findings inform ongoing work on value chain development in West-Africa which was made possible because of the regular feedback sessions, the manual capacity development and the participatory nature of the research. This has allowed a wide group of people involved in developing and strengthening pro-poor value chains to improve their work and start development of collaborative efforts in other value chains.
The third example is an Action Research on Programmatic Approach development with 5 programmatic coalitionsUsing funding from the Learning and working trajectory that ICCO contracted with PSO, 6 young researchers were engaged to do a participatory action research The action research subject was : what are the factors influencing the quality of programmatic cooperation in 5 programmatic coalitions of partners of ICCO. The knowledge gained through the research was first of all insights gained by the actors involved about what contributed to and what were constraints in creating effective partnerships. These AR’s also led to a sharing of ideas about possible improvements and to the start of the implementation of improvements. The Action researchers were inquiring, reflecting, facilitating and sometimes assessing with the cooperating actors. They organized their Action research based on research questions that were the result of a participatory individual and group consultation. Action research embedded in the reality and the experiences of the programme coalition members and action research actually undertaken largely by these same actors. In twocases Participatory video was used as a method to promote self-reflection by the partners involved in the Madagascar FNS programme and By women shea nut processers in Burkina Faso, Their ideas were also presented to other stakeholders during the International Shea conference in ACCRA May 2012). The Theory of Change approach was introduced in workshops to help partners improve the quality of the programmatic cooperation and effectiveness of their programmes. Stakeholder and context analysis were other tools introduced to assist participants in their action research and learning process. The knowledge that was developed in that manner was situated at two levels:The participants gained actionable knowledge on how to improve their cooperation and the effectiveness of their cooperation.ICCO gained knowledge about what are the factors that contribute to good quality programmatic cooperation and about how ICCO can support the programmatic coalition partners and about what ICCO should not do in order to prevent constraints that ICCO puts on a coalition as donor organization.
The last example is PADEV a research programme that ICCO and Woord en Daad have undertaken jointly with the Free University Amsterdam, The Africa Studies Centre Leiden, The University for Development Studies in Tamale and Expertise pour l’ Développement du Sahel in Burkina Faso. The aim was to develop through participatory research new methodologies for Impact assessment of development initiatives that had taken place over a long period of time. The research involved the population that could be affected by the development programmes in workshop –based methods. Assuring participation of the poorest people in the population was a challenge, Additional research with only his specific group using the same methodology assured that the impact of development on the poorest people was assessed as well. It also showed as an evaluation outcome that only very specific and few development interventions really have a positive impact on their level of wellbeing and development. The Research developed methodologies for participatory impact assessment that would combine rigour and a constructivist perspective on evaluation. The research also was an actual impact assessment that gave insights in the effectiveness , relevance and efficiency of support by (I)NGO’s to the local Civil Society for development that improves the condition and position of the population in the regions studied.A portal makes the research products available to a wider public and in workshops the research has been shared with other colleagues in the field of Evaluation for Impact
Documentation and informationICCO is not an academic institution but in our work we value the linkages to developing knowledge with academe.For us and our partners but just as much because we believe that academe will gain from the opportunity to develop knowledge based on experiences.At the same time we benefit from the cooperation with the KIT Information and documentation Service Department They open up a wide range sources of information that can be relevant as sources of information and external knowledge to our staff. Through this service we have access to a portal that provides us on a regular basis with a review of new publications in the thematic areas in which we work.And with access to online scientific journals and sector journals and full article downloads when required,And lastly access to a wide range of data banks where staff can find more than they would ever like to know.This service was developed because in the decentralized structure of the ICCO-cooperative a hard-copy library with books and subscriptions to journals is not effective in reaching all our staff and providing them with access to the required information and knowledge. Training by the KIT Documentation and information service staff in an online way enables our staff to use these opportunities. However it is not an immediate success, although we see a growing utilization in the statistics. Staff also search on the web, googling diverse sources of information so we see thie service by the KIT documentation and Information department as an additional access to really high quality, academic literature from formal publications as well as grey literature in the Search4Dev system.Thank you.
Developing knowledge, sharing knowledge , acquiring knowledge What does knowledge development imply for an organization as the ICCO-Cooperative?