“KM for Development” or KM4D can be seen from different viewpoints.
Level 1. Community viewpoint
We saw earlier in “Unconscious KM and Conscious KM” that successful anti-poverty projects are those that leveraged well the intangible assets owned by or accessible to the community, and that the broader concept of “intangible assets” and the even broader construct of “metacapital” are preferable units of management than the more limited “knowledge assets” or “knowledge”. From this community or “insider” viewpoint, the concerns are:
- Identify and leverage on strong intangible assets of the community
- Identify and neutralize weaknesses and risks in community intangible assets
- Identify, select and design projects that address priority community needs and leverages on community intangible assets
- With whom and how to best link up with stakeholders who can best support their projects
- Embed self-learning processes in community projects.
M&E of KM4D at this level refers to tracking and evaluating community intangible assets: existing before a development project, those leveraged or used in the project, and what the project brings in from or enables access to the outside. It is M&E of community KM, or better, it is M&E of community tangible and intangible assets and their management.
A special case is KM by MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises); this is a new frontier, where the main issue is how to translate the successful KM practices in the larger corporate sectors to the MSME level. Note that “KM by MSMEs” is not the same as “KM for MSMEs” which is a concern of development workers and institutions (Level 2). MicroLINKS is an example of the latter.
Level 2. Development workers and development institutions’ viewpoints
From our studies of successful local development projects in the Philippines, facilitating information/knowledge flows to/from various development actors did not emerge as a success factor. Yet, this is the common framework in most KM4D discourse. Knowledge sharing is an issue more at this level than at the community level. One sees this assumption cutting across various concerns voiced in KM4D communities:
- Provide the development worker the right information/knowledge at the right time
- Facilitate cross-project learning
- Collect and share good/best practices and tools
- Provide local communities with the information, knowledge and technologies they need
- Set up knowledge-sharing communities
- Facilitate organizational learning
- Learn from project successes/failures to design/innovate better development projects and programs
These basically “outsider” concerns are patently different from community or “insider” concerns in Level 1.
M&E of KM4D at this level refers to tracking and evaluating the management of knowledge deployed by development workers and development institutions. It is M&E of organizational KM, program KM or project KM. An on-going task here is to borrow and adapt workable M&E of KM approaches from the corporate sector to the development sector.
3. Local and national government viewpoints
At the national-level, the KM4D discourse centers around the search for appropriate government strategies, policies and programs to enhance national intellectual capital/assets and to use these assets for national development including to capture opportunities in the emerging global knowledge economy. The most well-known effort in this direction is led by the World Bank using its Knowledge-Based Economy or KBE model, and its accompanying quantitative M&E system of indicators, namely, the Knowledge Assessment Methodology or KAM. The Asian Development Bank attempted to improve on the KBE model, which is focused only on the economic dimension, by proposed a Knowledge-Based Development or KBD model which seeks to marry the intellectual capital framework from KM with the sustainable development framework spearheaded by the UN primarily via the 1992 Rio Summit. Similar M&E indicators under ADB’s KBD model has not yet been developed.
KM4D among local governments is another new level of discourse and programmatic attention. In the Philippines, this is taking the form of KM slowly being adopted within and across local governments, as well as by the Local Government Academy, the training and R&D arm of the Department of Interior and Local Governments. The World Bank had supported a successful knowledge-sharing program across Philippine cities and among city mayors, called the City Development Strategies (CDS) project.
In places where sub-national and trans-national political factions are engaged in conflict (e.g. Congo in Africa, Mindanao in the Philippines, Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal border areas), “peace and development” is the dominant discourse. Using KM language, their main task is how to create or strengthen inclusive “bridging social capital” across warring social groups, and how to reduce the type of “bonding social capital” within each group that cultivate exclusively internal social cohesion at the expense of social cohesion across the wider national system. Here, development can hardly proceed until after a minimum threshold of peace (e.g. ceasefire and political negotiations/agreements) had been set in place.
Note that power — the power to influence what eventually happens at the local level and the power to set the agenda for development discourse — is least at Level 1 and greater at Levels 2 and/or 3. Note, too, that “KM4D” comes from the language of Level 2 discourse.
In an earlier post entitled “Proposed M&E Framework”, I have given illustrative examples of M&E at three stages: knowledge available (supply), action or user of knowledge (demand), and results of application of knowledge (output and outcomes). Those examples can be broken down further according to the three levels above plus two categories: networks and corporate sector, as follows: