ISBN 9781928331391
ePub ISBN 9781928331414
Pages 398
Dimensions 254 x 178mm
Published 2016
Publisher African Minds Publishers, South Africa
Formats Paperback, eBook

The Delusion of Knowledge Transfer

The Impact of Foreign Aid Experts on Policy-making in South Africa and Tanzania

edited by Susanne Koch, Peter Weingart

With the rise of the ‘knowledge for development’ paradigm, expert advice has become a prime instrument of foreign aid. At the same time, it has been object of repeated criticism: the chronic failure of ‘technical assistance’ – a notion under which advice is commonly subsumed – has been documented in a host of studies. Nonetheless, international organisations continue to send advisors, promising to increase the ‘effectiveness’ of expert support if their technocratic recommendations are taken up. This book reveals fundamental problems of expert advice in the context of aid that concern issues of power and legitimacy rather than merely flaws of implementation. Based on empirical evidence from South Africa and Tanzania, the authors show that aid-related advisory processes are inevitably obstructed by colliding interests, political pressures and hierarchical relations that impede knowledge transfer and mutual learning. As a result, recipient governments find themselves caught in a perpetual cycle of dependency, continuously advised by experts who convey the shifting paradigms and agendas of their respective donor governments.

For young democracies, the persistent presence of external actors is hazardous: ultimately, it poses a threat to the legitimacy of their governments if their policy-making becomes more responsive to foreign demands than to the preferences and needs of their citizens.

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About the Editors

Susanne Koch

Dr Susanne Koch is a researcher at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany and a research associate at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. After graduating in journalism and social sciences, she joined Bielefeld University's "(Scientific) Experts in Developing Democracies" project, and, in 2015, completed her award-winning PhD as part of that project. Since 2016, she has been working as a research assistant and lecturer at the TUM Chair of Forest and Environmental Policy. Her current research interests include science policy interaction and the uptake of knowledge in developing countries as well as the impacts of foreign aid and international forest and environmental regimes, particularly on the African continent. 

Peter Weingart

Prof. Peter Weingart is the South African Research Chair in Science Communication at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Science Policy at Bielefeld University in Germany and former director of the Institute for Science and Technology Studies as well as of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at that university. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences as well as the German Academy of Engineering Sciences (acatech). Current research interests include science advice to politicians, science-media interrelations, and science communication. He assumed the editorship of MINERVA in 2007 and is managing editor of the Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook. He has published numerous monographs and articles on the sociology of science, on science policy, and on science, media and the public. 

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