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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

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Accompanying research for inter-organisational knowledge production: lessons from an explorative case study

Alexandra Konzack1, Jonathan Steinke2, Arielle Sandrine Rafanomezantsoa3, Sarah Tojo Mandaharisoa4, Dagmar Mithöfer5, Stefan Sieber6

1Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Germany
2Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Digital Inclusion
3University of Antananarivo, Trop.l Agric. and Sustainable Develop.
4University of Antananarivo, Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable Development Dept., Madagascar
5Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Germany
6Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Sustainable Land Use in Developing Countries (SusLAND), Germany


Intervention projects in international development are often designed based on experiences of the organisations’ previous projects. Rarely, the knowledge of other organisations working on the same objective is collected systematically and used to shape implementation design. At the same time, knowledge produced by academia is often of no practical use for practitioners. With the help of an explorative case study, we analysed if and to what extend ‘Accompanying Research’ (AR) could act as knowledge activist and thereby minimise the gap between academia and practice. AR aims at embedding continuous, systematic research into the agenda of development projects and thus help to create stronger impacts alongside valuable outputs for the scientific community. But, to date, AR is not yet common practice in international development.
In a first step, we explored success stories of 17 local and international agencies working on food and nutrition security in Madagascar. The findings were aggregated to a collection of locally proven intervention and communication strategies, as well as lesson learnt. Thereby, the collection contained different knowledge products based on our experience review. In a second phase, this experience collection process was jointly evaluated with three NGOs currently in charge of implementing the accompanied FNS project. In a participatory virtual workshop, implementation stakeholders presented their knowledge needs and sources, and the usefulness of the AR approach was discussed. This highlighted several benefits, but also barriers and ideas for improvement for the performance of accompanying researchers as knowledge activists.
The case study highlighted that accompanying researchers could act as knowledge activists, if participation of development stakeholders is further enhanced in critical key moments, e.g. the definition of knowledge needs in the beginning. In return, AR needs to consider the enormous time pressure of development organisations and therefore present results containing graduated levels of information. Finally, the timing of the AR study and the presentation to the development agency addressed, is crucial for its usefulness.
If the approach is reproduced following our recommendations, it can enable accompanying researchers to trigger inter-organisational knowledge creation processes for the development community.

Keywords: Accompanying research, development projects, food and nutrition security interventions, knowledge creation, participation

Contact Address: Alexandra Konzack, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Unter den linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany, e-mail: alexandra.konzack@hu-berlin.de

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