The private sector as the ‘unusual suspect’ in knowledge brokering for international sustainable development: a critical review.



Private sector, knowledge brokering, international development, literature review, Africa, Europe


Although the private sector’s engagement in sustainable international development is receiving increasing emphasis, its role in knowledge brokering has probably not yet received enough attention. Drawing on the Glegg and Hoens’ (2016) meta-framework of knowledge brokering we analysed the role of the private sector in knowledge brokering in Europe and Africa. Of the 702 records identified, 13 studies, representing 44 case studies and two surveys were included. The private sector’s roles are versatile, extending beyond connecting research evidence to potential users, to connecting researchers to funding opportunities and to other researchers, and to hosting platforms for using identified journal articles from 5 bibliographic databases collaborative research and policy making. The private sector actively invests resources to facilitate knowledge uptake, however this is to a large extent driven by self-interest. Perceived self-interests remain a barrier to knowledge brokering with the private sector not always being a trusted partner. Our results demonstrate that ‘lobbying and advocacy’ should be an additional role included in the meta framework of knowledge brokering.


Author Biographies

Suzanne Kiwanuka, Makerere University School of Public Health

Suzanne N Kiwanuka (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer at Makerere University School of Public Health, Uganda. Specializing in health systems policy and research.

Sarah Cummings, Athena Institute, VU University, The Netherlands.

Sarah Cummings (PhD) works as a researcher at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation chair group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands. She is a member of the KM4Dev community.

Barbara Regeer, Athena Institute, VU University, The Netherlands.

Barbara Regeer (PhD) is Associate Professor at the Athena Institute of the VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


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