Reframing expert support for development management.
Journal of International Development, 20(6) pp. 768–782.
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Three critiques of participatory development (PD) and their respective challenges for expert support are discussed – (i) the masking of ideological imperatives behind PD (ii) the depoliticising practice of policy language, and (iii) the restrictive space for enabling responsible support from different fields of expertise including science. Drawing on the experience of two interventions – one Guyana based and one European based - three conceptual tools are suggested for dealing with these issues respectively. First, systems thinking is described from a critical systems perspective, interrogating the legitimacy of boundaries that we use to frame reality. Second, social learning is considered as a complementary policy instrument in which language and communication are regarded as integral to development. Third, critical space for systems thinking and social learning is examined with reference to the limitations of space provided by conventional project management.
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