Talk:Impacts of the current Global Economic Crisis on the field of Knowledge Management

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See the original thread of this E-Discussion on D-Groups

Beverly Trayner, 2008/10/13

Hi all

I've been wondering about the effects of the economic crisis - and its accompanying shift in mindset(s). What effect will it have on us, our work practices and our employability?

The jobs we hold between us include: development work for NGOs, governments, international organisations, consultants, academics, IT specialists, hybrids and others...

The kinds of things I've been wondering about are:

  • Is the current climate good/bad for us in the short/long term?
  • Is this current climate good/bad for our constituents and/or clients in the short/long term?
  • Should we (in KM4Dev) be working as a network to act strategically in these circumstances? If so, how?

My tentative conclusions go along these lines: this is a time to be building - among ourselves and among our constituents - strategic capacities. More than ever I think we need to be developing strategic capacities for learning - and strategic capacities for taking action.

I'm not always certain what that means concretely. I'd love to know what it means, if anything, for people in KM4Dev?

Or: what other thoughts have people had about their own work contexts in relation to what's happening in the world economy and what will be happening in the future?

Barbara Weaver Smith, 2008/10/13


What great questions (and answers).

I support your tentative conclusions--the current economic uncertainties call for us (and by "us" I mean anyone who feels called to leadership and support) to focus on developing strategic capabilities through questions, issues, and plans. Ask all the questions that we can amass, discuss all the issues that seem relevant, make all the plans that may need to be made.

Ultimately I would say it doesn't matter whether the current climate is good for us or bad for us. It just IS.

In turbulent economic times resources shift dramatically. Often the less-privileged economically have rare opportunities when the so-called more privileged are struggling. So I would say it is a time for us to be strong, assertive, even aggressive, in our work and in our planning.

When times get tough, many organizations (of all kinds) discontinue their investment in planning, learning, and action. Those that find ways to increase these activities gain momentum and stature.

I will be very interested in other comments on your very pertinent post.

Jaap Pels, 2008/10/13

WASH Finance

UN Chief Urges Donors To Honor Aid Pledges Despite Financial Crisis

Posted: 13 Oct 2008 03:56 AM CDT

"UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon expressed deep concern on Tuesday [07 Oct 2008] at the continuing financial crisis, urging donor countries to honour their commitments - especially towards "the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), climate change and global food crisis".

Echoing a similar concern raised by World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Ban stressed that leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries had committed to providing annually $50 billion for the purpose of helping developing countries in the 2005 Gleneagles summit. 'Now because of all this changing prices, it has gone up to at least $62 billion now,' Ban said.

Meanwhile, FT [Financial Times] writes that "Aid agencies fear huge government bail-outs to ease the global financial crisis will hit their funding at a time when humanitarian needs are mounting due to disasters, climate change and conflict. John Holmes, the United Nations' top humanitarian official, said he expects some cutback on the $104 billion spent last year on official aid, though it is too early to gauge the extent. 'We are naturally concerned that it could have a substantial impact on aid funding levels,' he said. Groups such as Oxfam, Care International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also said they are worried that aid programs may have to be cut. …" [See also: Credit crisis threatens disastrous squeeze on aid, Reuters, 06 Oct 2008]

Source: World Bank Press Review, 08 Oct 2008.

If official development assistance and bi-lateral funding slow down, it may create acute pressure on the government budget and affect ongoing programmes such as poverty alleviation, social safety net, health and education, Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed observed during a roundtable on the Impact of Financial Crisis in South Asia, held on Oct 10 in Washington DC on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF annual meeting [, 13 Oct 2008].

The first major donor country to reduce its development aid pledges was Spain, [followed by] Ireland. And these two European countries are headed by governments sincerely dedicated to Africa's development and international solidarity. Other donors are expected to follow, including the giants USA, UK and Germany. "New donors" from Eastern Europe, which according to the IMF will be severely hit by the crisis, will be forced to pause their plans to massively increase development aid budgets. There are therefore few signs that Western nations will fulfill their pledges to aid Africa to reach the Millennium Development Goals - pledges that have be postponed several times and were only expected to reach their full size by 2009-10. [Rainer Chr.Hennig, afrol News, 09 Oct 2008]

Jakaya Kikwete, chairman of the African Union and president of Tanzania, appealed against any cut in aid following the global financial crisis. [BBC, 10 Oct 2008]

Nancy White, 2008/10/15

Some meanderings on this topic as I travel and talk to people (Rome, Prague, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem)

  • funding for projects will be impacted, but it may take a few months to hit NGOs. Typically they lag 6-12 months behind a down turn because

funding is already set for the coming fiscal year.

  • our skills at distributed and F2F KS processes which bring groups into more productive work patterns will be needed in and across our organizations, but budget concerns will probably be a bit of a conflict against the perceived/real needs
  • this is an opportunity to focus on action close to home (no jetting to do work) and then sharing what is discovered online. So really nurturing

geographic collaboratives and networks then connecting them.

  • people will focus even more on their return on investment of time, money AND attention
  • we'll see more emergencies which will funnel some of the longer term investments in learning away - so how do we build learning into these

emergency situations? What is the bigger system picture?

Andrew Dale, 2008/10/15

My own view is that the climate is good for KM, since the value of knowledge will increase as returns on investment decrease. That's a simple rule - whatever helps cope will survive. For our clients/constituents it is obviously bad, though the governments seem determined not to let the situation have its full impact. A longer-term issue is the nationalization (not) of the banks - this will have an impact on government financial policy and behaviour, and development aid is unlikely to be unaffected. What we can do is focus on maximizing the value of the knowledge we share and of ourselves as a network. Since investment will inevitably fall, whatever leverages returns will be promoted.