1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Special Events (2000 - 2009) | Event: UNRISD Conference on Social Knowledge and International Policy Making: Exploring the Linkages


UNRISD Conference on Social Knowledge and International Policy Making: Exploring the Linkages


Development Knowledge and the Global Policy Agenda


by Kenneth King

This paper concerns one particular aspect of the development community’s continuing preoccupation with knowledge, and that is the role of knowledge in the construction of agency policy, and beyond that in the construction of what we term the global development agenda. As bilateral and multilateral donors have increasingly, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, come to see themselves as ‘knowledge agencies’ and as institutions involved in ‘knowledge-based aid’, so it becomes important to identify the sources of these claims, and to examine the role of knowledge in the global development agenda. In terms of the older debate about how external research could influence agency policy, it may well appear that the new knowledge discourse conceptualises a great deal of knowledge as being already embedded within agencies. Hence the new knowledge challenge for agencies is sometimes presented as the need for them to capture more effectively and explicitly what they already, in some sense, know. In other words, the knowledge sources for their development policies are felt to be potentially within agencies or at least within their reach.

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