Our knowledge ourselves: Engineers (re)thinking technology in development

Wilson, Gordon (2008). Our knowledge ourselves: Engineers (re)thinking technology in development. Journal of International Development, 20(6) pp. 739–750.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jid.1493


A re-conceptualisation of technology (and science) in development is claimed to be taking, or have recently taken place. There is more than one variant, but they have in common a pluralist, constructivist conception of knowledge and its importance for development. What, however, do professional practitioners of technology in development say about their values, their mindsets and their practices, and what, if anything, does this sense-making contribute to the re-conceptualisation? Based on interviews with development-related engineers from a previous research project, and analysis of engineer perspectives that are provided on a private sector company website, this exploratory paper offers some preliminary observations. These include: A positive attitude to working with others and their realities, especially but not exclusively other professional realities
A concern with enhancing their professional identity
The interplay between retrospective reflection and ongoing enactment through projects
The motivation associated with a can-do mindset and the importance of creativity for job satisfaction and enhancement
The general importance of shared experience gained through working with others.

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