Learning and mutuality in municipal partnerships and beyond: a focus on northern partners

Johnson, Hazel and Wilson, Gordon (2009). Learning and mutuality in municipal partnerships and beyond: a focus on northern partners. Habitat International, 33(2) pp. 210–217.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2008.10.013


North–South municipal partnerships that are based on practitioner-to-practitioner collaboration are explicitly concerned with joint learning and knowledge production for more effective practice. Such partnerships assume a principle of mutuality – northern and southern partners are both assumed to gain from them, whether in similar or different ways. Research suggests that the processes of learning and knowledge production in North–South municipal partnerships pose challenges to mutuality both as a value and as an incentive. However, research has frequently focused on the challenges of learning by the southern partner(s) and, while recognising its importance, less analysis or reflection has been done on northern learning. However, if there are to be effective and sustainable partnerships, the investigation and promotion of northern learning is also required, as well as greater understanding of the action learning spaces in which it occurs. This article examines two partnerships in UK and Uganda, and the processes of learning and related institutional development for the northern partners. The article considers how peer exchange and learning can extend beyond the initial boundaries of cooperation, and suggests how research on mutuality and social learning can be further progressed from an institutional standpoint.

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