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South-South knowledge intermediation: approaches to triangular cooperation in knowledge for development

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posted on 18.11.2015, 14:50 by Philipp Grunewald
This multi-disciplinary study explores a field of enquiry at the boundaries of information science and development studies. It is concerned with the facilitation of knowledge processes - processes of knowledge exchange and co-creation - in the international development sector. Additionally, this study considers the importance of human relationships and social networks (and power), and studies these in knowledge intermediation projects. The main gaps that are addressed regard the understanding of intermediating knowledge process concerned with learners situated (partly) across cultural, language, and political boundaries in developing countries. Such projects/programmes/approaches, coined South-South knowledge exchanges by the World Bank, have only seen very limited amount of research; the foci of this research are human relationships and initiation acts, which add further novelty. By mirroring ideas of triangular and South-South collaboration the thesis explores knowledge intermediation projects and three roles played by actors participating in such projects: the intermediary and facilitator of knowledge processes (usually backed by a funding body), someone sharing knowledge (knowledge holders), and someone learning from others (knowledge seeker). This study not only shows how these roles apply to knowledge intermediation projects but also addresses their influence on relational elements at the interpersonal level. Two case studies are used to show how knowledge intermediation projects in the international development sector are shaped by their approach (demand initiated, facilitator/funder initiated), especially in terms of the relationships they foster. The sociology of knowledge approach to discourse analysis (SKAD) is used in the study of the case studies, which is supplemented by social network analysis. After linking the discovered relationship patterns to the initiation acts in the respective case studies a picture emerges that offers two broad insights. Firstly, facilitator/funder initiation of South-South knowledge intermediation projects appears to lead to many potential relationships, most of them irrelevant to an individual and, therefore, unestablished. Secondly, demand initiation of South-South knowledge intermediation projects appears to lead to very few, yet highly relevant, relationships.



  • Science


  • Information Science


© Philipp Grunewald

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.