IKM Emergent Programme

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I mentioned this in Brighton and have at last sussed out how to post it to this WIKI. If anyone is interested in participating in the development or implementation of this draft programme, please get in touch with me, Mike Powell on m.powell at pop3.poptel.org.uk

Emerging Issues in Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) and International Development: Summary of Draft Programme

A five year research and development programme will aim to create a sustainable and self-reinforcing environment for innovation and change in the use of knowledge by the development sector to better attain its goals.

The programme is based on an analysis of the challenges facing the development sector at a time of rapid global change, which suggests that

  • the sector has not fully appreciated the strategic importance of knowledge, in all its meanings, to its work
  • it has not, consequently, given sufficient attention to the practical issues of organising and using information and knowledge within and between organizations
  • Northern development organizations of all types often lack adequate knowledge of the *Southern realities that they exist to change and, as importantly, of the perception of those realities by local populations and by local intellectuals. This is a fundamental issue affecting the potential effectiveness of development work.

The programme consists of a set of activities and a process which aim to

  • promote greater awareness and understanding of IKM issues, including research, within the sector, particularly those that relate to Southern perspectives
  • document, develop and test innovative ideas on how to address some of the practical challenges raised
  • create interactive networks of managers, practitioners, information specialists and users capable of sustaining collaboration on these issues in the future.

The programme pays particular attention to IKM practice within Northern development organisations but aims to do so in such a way that promotes investment in and use of information and knowledge produced in the South. It attempts a holistic approach to what is a complex and multifaceted subject. It adopts a collaborative and interactive approach, offering a variety of ways in which development actors and professionals, researchers and policymakers can engage with the programme so that it benefits from their experience and they have awareness of its work. It will go beyond retrospective research to anticipate emerging trends and to design new processes which may shape future practice. Being future-oriented, it aims to encourage the full participation of young people throughout its work.

The programme will be structured around three working groups, interacting with each other and, developing their work in response to initial findings. Each will build and interact with networks of specialists and users interested in its particular themes. The working groups are

  • Exploring discourses - understanding constraints which limit the range of discourses utilised in development thought and practice; supporting processes of autonomous expression and of connecting such expression to wider development discourse
  • Making the most of information - supporting the IKM roles of end users; exploring appropriate new artefacts for communication and expression and their reception and use by development professionals; improving the handling of information through developing classification and navigation techniques to cover the range of development information, its varied formats, its multiple uses at different times
  • Knowledge sharing and management – understanding needs of users and producers and how they can be met by new structures and practices for sharing knowledge

The working groups will be supported by a review body which will provide intellectual oversight. A co-ordinator and secretariat will be responsible for the administration of the programme. The programme will develop a detailed and interactive advocacy and communications strategy to support the promotion of knowledge-oriented change within organisations, building of networks, dissemination of results and providing a rich information environment to support the work of all engaged in or learning from the programme.

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