Whose Knowledge Support Development Programs?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Yukimi SHIMODA, University of Tsukuba, Japan, The University of Western Australia, Australia
International donors have conducted various development activities in less-developed countries. Their activities have been formed within their institution’s policies (and national policies in the case of bilateral donors), and these often closely resonate with global development initiatives. Looking at donor documents, these programs seem to be smoothly implemented, and often support the creation of so-called good practices. However, in practice, development activities are supported and implemented by the accumulated hands-on knowledge and significant effort of development practitioners. Their struggles and efforts in bringing about and adjusting development programs in local contexts are rarely documented in donors’ reports or in the development literature, as these generally focus on the outputs and effectiveness of programs. Also, in the field of technical cooperation, practitioners often act as a kind of mediator, linking the programs designed by the organisations they belong to, and local stakeholders in recipient countries.

This paper explores the experience of highly mobile development practitioners from Japan, who regularly or temporarily work for organisations (e.g. aid agencies, consulting firms) that deal with various issues in less-developed countries. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews, which were mainly conducted face-to-face during the subjects’ temporary return to Japan, or sometimes by telephone or Skype. I also followed some of their activities through social media. Following their mobile working lives between Japan and recipient countries within their career trajectories, this paper aims to reveal the ways in which they have accumulated and utilised (or not utilised) the rich experience and knowledge they have gained when working as practitioners who must carry out activities within the limited timeframe of each program. Finally, this paper highlights the importance of the accumulated knowledge of individual practitioners; a process that is usually unseen behind “good practices” and the trend of strongly emphasising recipient ownership of programs.