Learning about Relationships in Development: Katherine Pasteur and Patta Scott- Villiers
Relationships and interactions may be the stock in trade of aid; yet, development agencies have given relatively little attention to thinking about what limits or promotes learning within relationships, and to ensuring procedures and an organizational culture that foster capacities to select and engage with appropriate or necessary interlocutors and to end relationships well. International development cooperation is, at its foundation, based on human, organizational and political relationships. Why are we not learning about them? Whether a development agency is delivering projects, negotiating sector-wide approaches, influencing policy and opinion, or supporting national budgets, its resources are delivered through working with organizations and individuals in aid-recipient and aiddonor countries, in multilateral arenas and through a maze of interactions within the organization itsel£ A quick scan of daily activities in any of the big bilateral agencies would reveal thousands of meetings, in which the human relationships are the environment that creates new ideas, knowledge, agreements and action. It is within relationships that aid actors not only exert influence, but also learn much of what they know about development-about its context, processes, impact and possibilities. In the flow of relations between people within and beyond the boundaries of the organization, the development agency stores its greatest asset -its dynamic knowledge and its capacity to act well.