Reading list: Capacity Building in development networks

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Original Message

From: Dorine Ruter, posted on 2009/02/12

Hi all,

A colleague of mine is participating in a PSO learning trajectory on capacity building in development networks. She shared with me a reading list, which I thought would be nice to pass on to you all here, since several of the topics have been mentioned in previous emails here. (e.g. networks, networking, evaluating networks, capacity building in networks and so on.) Some items in the list are just PDF names, but I’m sure most can be found via Google.

(Perhaps for people who put these and more such publications in their links, it would be great if they were tagged “networking” and “km4dev” so all documents can be traceable via this link?)

Best wishes, Dorine Ruter


All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Dorine Ruter
Simon Hearn

Related Discussions


Detailed Description

[the meat of the topic – clearly, crisply communicated summary of the topic. Where relevant, a brief story – no more than 1-2 paragraphs - of how this topic has been turned into practice, ideally from the KM4Dev archives? If the example is long, separate into a separate subsection]

Examples in Application

[One or a few practical examples and references that illustrate the topic or show how it is done in practice]

Recommended Resources

Background reading

We recommend the following articles, whereby nr. 13 is a list of further reading options.

  1. Taschereau 2001 Networks and capacity.pdf - Provides a broad analysis about networks as an organisational form, why they emerge and what makes them effective.
  2. ICCO 2004 Networking for learning.pdf - Joint publication ICCO and ECDPM. Focusses on knowledge/learning networks. Interesting discussion on characteristics of successful networks.
  3. Ashman 2001 Closing_the_Gap.pdf - Title: "Closing the Gap between promise and practice: A framework for planning, monitoring an evaluating social development networks." Features a table of misconceptions of network development.
  4. Liebler 2004 NGO networks.pdf - Quote: "Many network members resist the attempt to affix any label to them: don't put me in a box!" This article discusses the difference between top-down formation and bottom-up. (taken further in publication by Fulco van Deventer)
  5. Wilson-Grau 2006 Evaluating international social change networks.pdf - "A network is eminently a political act. Its fundamental function is to configure the power and action of its members into a collective force for social change… Thus, the intended impact of a Network is expressed in its political purpose, rather than in institutional objectives." - Consider that evaluation of Networks should focus on four performance criteria (Democracy, Diversity, Dynamism and Excellence) and three operational dimensions (Political purpose, Organisation and managemen, and Leadership and participation).
  6. Provan 2001 Do_Networks_Really_Work?.pdf - Discussion on measuring network effectiveness. “Consistent with a multiple-stakeholder perspective, evaluation of network effectiveness can be viewed at three levels of analysis: the community, the network itself, and the network’s organizational participants. These levels are of concern to three broad categories of network constituents: principals, agents and clients.”
  7. Hilhorst 2007 Aliantievorming in OS.pdf - Nederlands artikel in tijdschrift M&O (Management & Organisatie). Observeert dat allianties steeds belangrijker worden in de sector ontwikkelingssamenwerking. Geeft voor de professionalisering een aantal handelingsopties.
  8. Ranabaldo 2003 United we stand..?.pdf - Highly recommended as background reading on how networks function. - This document is a summary of the results of research into networks of institutions, especially NGOs, carried out following the initiative, and with the support, of the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO). The document classifies networks according to their activities and the benefits obtained from participating. Furthermore it discusses different levels of pertinence and element for sustainability.
  9. Fowler 2000 Partnerships.pdf - Important paper to reflect on North-South partnerships between NGOs. It discusses what rights and obligations might be according to the type of relationship and level of participation. Quote: “Relationships need to be more in the favour of those frequently least able to negotiate from a position of adequate capacity and relative strength.”
    1. van Deventer 2004 Understanding Networks.pdf - Basic reading for the learning trajectory! Introduces concepts of networks en suggests ways of analysing them.
    2. van Deventer 2006 Understanding Networking.pdf - A enlightning scedule is presented, showing two distinct flows that relate the purpose of networks to its functioning:
      • The experimental approach with three fundamental drivers: upscaling, upgrading, upstreaming
      • The instrumental approach: downscaling, downgrading, downstreaming
  10. James 2006 Organisational_challenges.pdf - Case study on Civil Society Organisations Networks in Malawi. "The most striking finding of the whole research was that almost every respondent highlighted organisational identity as the biggest current challenge facing CSO networks."
  11. Hulsebosch 2008 From meeting to learning community.pdf - The article documents experiences with the facilitation process of an e-collaboration learning community meticulously. It summarizes reflections and principles for facilitators who want to facilitate from a Community of Practice (CoP) theory perspective as well as stage-specific facilitator interventions.
  12. Ashman 2001 Networks and capacity annotated bibliography.pdf
  13. UNDP Capacity_Building of grassroot network.pdf - "This document outlines the capacity building and support needs of grassroots networks at all levels to combat poverty. It then posits what capacity building and support requirements can help build effective alliances between grassroots networks and other institutional actors. Finally it outlines what government and donors can do to legitimise the influence of grassroots networks to become an effective force so communities can have a say in determining their own destinies."
  14. Perkin and Court 2005 Networks and Policy Processes in International Development, ODI.pdf - This paper provides a systematic overview of many case studies. It identifies key roles networks can play in policy processes.