A fifth generation of knowledge management for development (KM4D) has been proposed in two recent papers1,2, based on generations identified by authors from mainstream knowledge management (KM) and KM4D (Table 1).
As shown in Table 1, the identifying concept of the fifth generation of KM4D is cross-domain knowledge integration and knowledge co-creation, and its features are multiple knowledges, multi-stakeholder processes, global public good and knowledge commons, and emergence and complexity.
Evidence for the benefits of a fifth generation of KM4D
I’ve coordinated and been involved in numerous community-based natural resource management projects that clearly demonstrate the significant benefits of the proposed fifth generation of KM4D.
One such example is the 1998-9 Sustainable Management of the Helidon Hills Project. The Helidon Hills is a large area of high conservation value native forest that was facing a range of conflicting and competing land use and management issues, and the Helidon Hills Project was highly regarded for the way in which it engaged stakeholders and the community in addressing these issues.
As I discuss in the two RealKM Magazine articles Case Study: Knowledge transfer and sharing through collaborative learning and governance and Case Study: How to overcome resistance and denial when engaging stakeholders, the Helidon Hills Project exhibited the identifying concept and all features of the fifth generation of KM4D:
Cross-domain knowledge integration and knowledge co-creation – The Helidon Hills Project used collaborative learning and governance processes which were responsive to the situational complexities and social context of the Helidon Hills area.
Multiple knowledges – The Helidon Hills Project drew on all scientific knowledge relevant to the area, and the knowledge of all stakeholders with an interest in the area including all landholders, all government agencies responsible for the area, and everyone in the wider community with an interest or stake in the area.
Multi-stakeholder processes – The Helidon Hills Project facilitated stakeholder input and involvement both individually and collectively, followed by bringing people with conflicting issues together to work through and resolve their concerns.
Global public good and knowledge commons – Through the collaborative learning processes of the Helidon Hills Project, the community of interest for the Helidon Hills developed a collective understanding of the significant natural values of the area and what needed to be done to conserve them.
Emphasis on local knowledge – The collaborative learning and governance processes of the Helidon Hills Project emphasized local knowledge, and local knowledge was the foundation of the win-win solutions developed to identified issues. This was necessary to enable landholders and the community to feel a sense of ownership over the solutions.
Emergence and complexity – The Helidon Hills is a highly complex landscape, having both public and private land tenures and a wide diversity of land uses and land management practices, some of which are competing or in direct conflict with each other. The collaborative learning and governance processes of the Helidon Hills Project allowed issues of concern and potential solutions to readily emerge.
Other examples from my work that also demonstrate the significant benefits of the proposed fifth generation of KM4D include Crow’s Nest Shire Project Green Nest, the Biodiversity Recovery Plan for Gatton and Laidley Shires, and the Hawkesbury-Nepean River Recovery Program.
Research in the natural resource management field also endorses the benefits of the proposed fifth generation of KM4D. For example, one of the papers discussing the fifth generation of KM4D states that (p. 23): “This [fifth] generation of KM4D is characterised by … [factors including] a growing awareness of multiple knowledges and multi-stakeholder processes in the solution of ‘wicked problems’ [and] recognition of the importance of complexity and emergence.” Reflecting this, Harding, Hendriks, and Faruqi3 advise that many environmental issues can be described as wicked problems, where complex interconnected ecological and social factors and uncertain contexts and boundaries make the issues very difficult to resolve, and that participation processes for environmental decision-making must be effective and appropriate, with higher levels of participation for issues that are more complex or controversial.
This evidence shows that the proposed fifth generation of KM4D should be very actively supported by the KM community.
Article source: The future of knowledge brokering, perspectives from a generational framework of knowledge management for international development is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.
Header image caption and source: Government, university, rural industry group, and community members share knowledge about sustainable landscape management during the 2009-11 Hawkesbury-Nepean River Recovery Program. Image by Bruce Boyes, published under CC BY 4.0).
- Cummings, S., Kiwanuka, S., Gillman, H., & Regeer, B. (2018). The future of knowledge brokering, perspectives from a generational framework of knowledge management for international development. Information Development, https://doi.org/10.1177/0266666918800174 ↩
- Cummings, S., Regeer, B. J., Ho, W. W., & Zweekhorst, M. B. (2013). Proposing a fifth generation of knowledge management for development: investigating convergence between knowledge management for development and transdisciplinary research. Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 9(2), 10-36. ↩
- Harding, R., Hendriks, C. & Faruqi, M. (2009). Environmental Decision-Making: Exploring complexity and context, The Federation Press, Sydney. ↩
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