Knowledge management – from bottleneck to success factor: Concepts & practical guidance for co-learning systems in international development cooperation

July 07, 2020

"Often, when considering how to improve learning, we come up with solutions without properly analysing the requirements and problems that knowledge management would need to address. We build up a project website or propose wikis for collaboration, both of which are powerful tools, but do not fully comprehend the drivers and needs of a successful knowledge management system between participating stakeholders in the knowledge management process." Member of the IKI NDC Support Cluster


Over the past two decades, researchers and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines have argued that knowledge is central to any innovation and learning processes within firms and organisations. Likewise, knowledge management was shown to be the key factor for competing in global markets as well as for achieving impact through international development cooperation. However, when it comes to managing knowledge effectively, the field of international development cooperation poses complex challenges in terms of agenda coordination, promoting good practices and impact evaluation for the multitude of development organisations working at different levels – from local to global. For such complex cooperative forms of learning (hereafter ‘co-learning’), it is essential to gain a shared understanding of the terms, meanings and mechanisms of knowledge management in order to effectively grasp and govern their activities.

This publication introduces a conceptual and methodological framework for the design and the implementation of effective knowledge management interventions for co-learning systems in international development cooperation. Becoming acquainted with this framework can enable practitioners to coordinate collaborative knowledge work more effectively and share experiences in order to achieve better project results and disseminate findings. The framework can be universally applied, adapted and further developed for any stakeholder setting and thematic focus in the field of international development cooperation.