Why is „Manejo Integrado de Plagas” the number one download from SDC Websites

January 23, 2013 | bit-wartung | Learning Elsewhere, SDC Experiences |


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The importance of knowledge brokers for learning in SDC or why “Manejo Integrado de Plagas” (in engl. Integrated Pest Management) was the most downloaded document of SDC websites.

By Willi Graf, SDC


The document on SDC websites with the highest number
of downloads in 2012 was “Manejo Integrado de Plagas” from the SDC Peru website with some 6700 downloads.
It is a highly specific document (agriculture) with a probably exclusively Spanish speaking audience. Our highly praised (and sometimes priced) documents on all kinds of development policy and methodological subjects came far behind (the next ones with just over 3’000 downloads). I was not able to conduct any more in-depth research on the case but it seems to suggest the following:

1. An incredibly efficient knowledge broker found the  Manejo Integrado de Plagas” document very relevant for a well defined target public and he managed to draw its attention to the resource.

2. It is more difficult to explain, why all the other SDC documents did not have as much success! It could be that their quality was not as good (relevant for a given target group), that the target group is very small or … that the knowledge brokers who ought to work on its spreading are not efficient in doing their job. The latter would be utterly unpleasant since it concerns us, SDC staff at large!

Based on the 2012 report of the SDC Knowledge and Learning Division on the functioning of networks in SDC, a vivid discussion on knowledge and on how knowledge is managed at SDC started. I was personally startled to realize that the discussion largely focused on the thematic competence of the network focal points. In fact, I am the last one to pretend that thematic knowledge is not important. However, in my opinion the ability to broker knowledge is at least as significant. I could easily name a number of people within SDC who became quite efficient as thematic knowledge brokers without being subject specialists per se. When I ask myself what they and the once who combine thematic expertise with ability to broker knowledge are or have been good at; four things come to my mind:

• They are ready to go the extra mile to share knowledge with others (take initiative to talk to others, take extra time to do this, take the time to learn new things and are excited about it!)
• They systematically mobilize external and internal knowledge (they are aware that they do not know enough of most topics by themselves!)
• They have the ability to gain the trust of people who “demand” knowledge and get them also to share knowledge and this even when they themselves have relatively little experience in the institution.
• They have a profound understanding of development issues and the Swiss positioning in the development landscape (not necessarily related to years of experience!).

Illustration by Ankur Sethi, author of the Virtual Learning Blog

Personally, I believe that SDC staff is very often in the situation of a knowledge broker. One of these situations is the sectoral policy dialogue in partner countries. Often it is much more efficient to position a national partner organization and make sure their arguments are heard and build SDC positions around these arguments then to act as the voice of a particular argument under the SDC umbrella. Similarly, the knowledge exchange among project implementers is a knowledge broker challenge. When an SDC office manages to get its projects to share know-how this can have a very positive impact on the effectiveness of the overall portfolio and individual projects.

To sum up, I see brokering knowledge as a key competence of SDC staff in general and of network focal points in particular. It becomes important to consider knowledge broker qualities at recruitment and for on- the-job training!
As a measure of success of our brokering I suggest to aim at having at least three mainstream thematic or methodological SDC documents having close to 6’000 downloads 2013 hence rise up to the level of the remarkable Manejo Integrado de Plagas!

Further Links:
· Wikipedia:
· Analysis of an E-discussion by Knowledge Brokers Forum about Knowledge Brokers:



Comments to“Why is „Manejo Integrado de Plagas” the number one download from SDC Websites”

  1. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Willi, I like your blog post! Your sharp observation makes something crucial visible: the role of all of us, each single collaborator in this organisation, as knowledge broker spreading the knowledge the insights, the ideas…. Yes it’s crucial! The Networks are ‘just’ a vehicle for sharing and learning. The knowledge takes its course spreading beyond the networks boundaries and beyond ‘knowledge management’…

    And your post made it into the KM4dev community. Nancy White was referring to it on Feb. 6 in a discussion on knowledge brokering. For her “knowledge brokering is the fundamental value KM4Dev offers its members and the world.” That’s exactly what the SDC networks are doing. The purpose of sharing is using and reusing the knowledge in the (thematic) domain. Once more Nancy: “Our use of it. Our conversation around it and how, in that engagement, ideas and practices spread and hopefully improve.” (…) “This makes our influence very subtle and mostly invisible. But if you look at the SDC story, that brokering may be the difference that makes a difference.”
    And yes, I hope to see more of this kind of reflections in our blog. Many thanks once more for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Willi, and here a blog post on Similarities and differences of Knowledge Brokering and KM shared by @ewenlb on Twitter. I like the linking and matchmaking in brokering.
    Best, Nadia

  3. Very interesting read. Is there any book you can recommend on knowledge brokering?

  4. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Moritz, thanks for your comment. For references have a look at the summry of the Knowledge Brokers Forum’s e-discussion: (pdf). Else you might want to contact Philipp Grunewald he mentions some more literature in his blog:
    Good luck. Nadia


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