Between Pragmatism and Idealism: Implementing a Systemic Approach to Capacity Development

  • Catherine Fisher
Volume 41 Number 3
Published: February 5, 2016
Implementing a systemic approach to capacity development is more challenging than stakeholders expect and can be difficult to communicate to colleagues, donors and intended beneficiaries. This article explores challenges faced by the IDS Knowledge Services as it sought to turn an understanding of capacity development into practice. Drawing on the experience of one small scale programme it argues that: • for organisations to facilitate capacity development, they themselves need to change; • customary understandings of capacity development are an obstacle to effective demand‐led approaches; • promoting critical reflection may be the most sustainable activity for facilitating capacity development. It concludes that the process of translating an understanding of capacity development into practice requires treading a line between pragmatism and idealism. This approach has ethical and practical challenges which capacity development practitioners need to counter by considering the impact that they have on others, by being aware of their own capacity and working to change understandings of capacity development.
From Issue: Vol. 41 No. 3 (2010) | Reflecting Collectively on Capacities for Change