Knowledge Management for Development (KM4D)

Knowledge Management for Development (KM4D)

Alexander G. Flor (University of the Philippines, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7659-4.ch031


Knowledge management began in the private sector but has since been adopted by governments and international development agencies alike. In the mid-nineties, Stephen Denning established the Knowledge Management Program of the World Bank, which has served as the model for applying KM to international development assistance or KM4D. This chapter differentiates corporate KM from KM4D. It presents a typology and enumerates KM4D sectors and themes used by the international development assistance community in the past two and a half decades.
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Among the first to apply knowledge management to the development agenda and the public sphere was Stephen Denning, who headed the Knowledge Management Program of the World Bank. Denning (2000) employed a technique which he calls organizational storytelling to champion KM among his colleagues. He presents the beginnings of the KM4D narrative in the following account:

As a manager in the World Bank in 1996, I had been trying to communicate the idea of knowledge management and to get people to understand and to implement it. At that time in that organization, knowledge management was a strange and generally incomprehensible idea. I used the traditional methods of communicating with no success… In my desperation, I was willing to try anything and eventually I stumbled on the power of a story, such as the following: “In June 1995, a health worker in a tiny town in Zambia logged on to the website for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia and got the answer to a question on how to treat malaria….

This was June 1995, not June 2001. This was not the capital of Zambia but a tiny place six hundred kilometers away. This was not a rich country: this was Zambia, one of the poorest countries in the world. But the most important part of this picture for us in the World Bank is this: the World Bank isn't in the picture. The World Bank doesn't have its know-how accessible to all the millions of people who made decisions about poverty. But just imagine if it had...This story had helped galvanize staff and managers to imagine a different kind of future for the organization and to set about implementing it. Once knowledge management became an official corporate strategy later that year, I continued to use similar stories to reinforce and continue the change. The efforts were successful: by 2000, the World Bank was benchmarked as a world leader in knowledge management. (Denning, 2000)

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