How USAID is building the evidence base for knowledge management and organizational learning
Keywords:adaptive management, CLA, collaborate, development, evidence, knowledge management, learn, organizational learning, USAID
The United States Agency for International Development[i] (USAID) programmatic knowledge management and organizational learning effort, Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA), seeks to improve organizational effectiveness and development outcomes. To explore the hypothesized links between CLA and improvements at the organizational and program impact levels, USAID and its partner LEARN initiated the Evidence Base for Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (EB4CLA) workstream to answer the following questions: Does a systematic, intentional, and resourced approach to collaborating, learning and adapting contribute to improved organizational effectiveness and development outcomes? If so, how and under what conditions? How do we measure the contribution? This work builds on USAID’s 2011 KM Impact Challenge, which explored solutions and challenges to measuring the impact of investing in knowledge management (KM). This was documented in a special issue of this Journal, and was lauded by the journal’s Editorial Board. EB4CLA has addressed these questions through five activities: a regularly updated literature review, an internal learning network of implementing partners working to develop methods to measure CLA’s effects, a CLA Case Competition Analysis, and additional studies, including analysis of employee survey data and ‘deep dive’ case studies employing contribution tracing and other methods. Findings from these efforts provide preliminary support for links between CLA and improved organizational and development outcomes, and describe how collaborating, learning, and adapting work together in development contexts.
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