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Whose story? Exploring communicative practices among international development organisations using learning approaches designed for complex situations

Mariam Smith

Summary: The context in which international development work takes place is often complex and requires learning approaches which pay attention to complexity. Change is unpredictable
when development is viewed as a process including multiple actors with their changing relationships and boundaries. This ethnography investigates the cultural changes that take place in communicative practices among Non-Government Organisations that adopt ‘new’ learning approaches designed for complex situations. The study explores how Outcome Mapping, Outcome Harvesting and Most Significant Change, as cultural tools, make space for
learning as participation. The data in this study was created through an ethnographic approach in the local context of Cambodia.
The results of the study make visible the range of tensions that the change of learning approaches entails for the organisations focused upon in this study.
The results show how the three learning approaches make visible power relationships and have the potential to change the roles of the actors in contributing towards positive change. The roles and relationships between vulnerable community members, government agencies, NGO staff, and donors
change, having significant implications on practice. This is understood in terms of a dynamic process between agents, cultural tools and context. Learning systems are placed within tensions of multiple purposes for accountability and learning.
This study sheds light on the range of changes in communicative practices that focus upon learning, in terms of horizontal and vertical communities of practice creating space for situated learning and meaning.
Multiple stories with multiple voices can be an effective tool in support of learning in the context of these communities of practice in order to see positive social change.

Type: Theses

Theme: Evaluation and Research Methodologies

Contibuted by: Sana Shams, on: 28 Jul 2017

Downloads: 113

Download resource (pdf 3363 KB)

Latin America & Carribean Sub-Saharan Africa North Africa & Middle East South Asia South East Asia & Pacific Far-East Asia Eastern Europe & CIS (ex USSR) Western Europe North America & Canada Australasia