Networking for development

Networking builds links and connections among people who have different perspectives -- different takes on the world they see. When they start communicating about those perspectives, opportunities to discover new insights, new ideas and to shape new approaches come to life. Networking can be approached as a way of measuring what happens in development projects -- such as the Outcome Mapping approach to programme evaluation -- or as a development activity in its own right, an intervention that can benefit from evaluation and analysis to distill lessons and document learning. The resources below offer conceptual models to help development practitioners understand the processes of networking, and their value, as well as frameworks for evaluating and analysing what happens in networks.

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Selected resources

Introductory resources

Change at hand : web 2.0 for development

ASHLEY, Holly
et al
June 2009

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There are dozens of emerging interactive web services and applications, sometimes referred to as the ‘participatory’, ‘social’ or ‘readwrite’ web, but more commonly known as Web 2.0. Together, they are radically changing the ways we create, share, collaborate and publish digital information through the Internet. These new technical opportunities bring challenges as well as opportunities that we need to understand and grasp. Most of the themed articles are based on presentations made at the the international Web2forDev conference, 25-27 September 2007 at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy

eforums on HIV and TB : a toolkit for launching, moderating and managing a high quality eforum

KISTLER, Elizabeth
et al
2009

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This toolkit aims to provide organisations working in health and development with tools to launch, moderate and manage high-quality eForums that provide a safe space for civil society focused information sharing, networking and dialogue. It has the potential to be applied to a range of health and development issues. It is intended for international, regional and national civil society organisations recognising the power of information and the significance of a transparent, broad-based communication mechanism that enhances civil society responses to HIV and TB

Network perspectives in the evaluation of development interventions : more than a metaphor

DAVIES, Rick
November 2003

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This paper argues for the use of a network perspective in representing and evaluating aid interventions. Commonly used linear evaluation tools such as the logical framework (logframe) or problem tree selectively represent what an agency is trying to do, and then assess particular aspects of the intervention. Social network analysis describes social relationships which, the author contends, is what development is about. The wide range of methods and theories for network analysis means that there are lots of ways of thinking about and describing expected outcomes of interventions. Social network analysis is also very flexible in terms of the scale of the project, and can accomodate non-linear processes of change. This paper presents these five arguments for social network analysis, and then describes next steps for developing a coherent approach to evaluation based on a network perspective

Evaluating networks

Criteria for the evaluation of public action taking place within networks

ROELEFS, Marcoen
2004

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Paper focuses on what norms are appropriate to the evaluation of public action when this takes place in a network? It argues that the Dutch Government increasingly collaborates with other actors (public and/or private), not only in the execution but also in the elaboration of policies. If this is the case, it is not useful to evaluate public action as if it were undertaken in a vertical one-way model. However, one has to account for this kind of public action from the same basic values that apply to the whole public sector: democratic accountability, compliance with the rules, realisation of goals with a good cost effectiveness. It formulates seven norms that do take into account the particularities of public action within a network

Knowledge and learning in online networks in development : a social capital perspective

CUMMINGS, Sarah
HEEKS, Richard
HUYSMAN, Marleen
2003

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This paper examines the role of electronic networks in facilitating knowledge development and social learning in development, using the concept of social capital. This concept was developed to describe the functioning of groups and societies, and has been applied to online networks outside development. This paper examines three non-development approaches for examining social capital in online networks and communities. It uses elements of these approaches as a basis for a framework tailored to the analysis of online networks in a development context

Knowledge networks : guidelines for assessment

CREECH, Heather
RAMJI, Aly
2004

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This paper focuses on research and 'knowledge' networks rather than more informal or emergent networks and communities. It explores five major elements of network performance and related indicators of success: effectiveness, structure and governance, efficiency, resources and sustainability, and life cycle. At the end, the paper offers a sample process for undertaking a network assessment

Measuring the immeasurable : planning, monitoring, and evaluation of networks

KARL, Marilee
Ed
1998

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Aimed at people interested in civil society and change through the experiences of networks and networking. The book aims to share experiences of networks and networking organisations in planning, monitoring, and evaluation; examine problems, challenges, practices and successes; provide lessons and guidelines to strengthen the participatory monitoring and evaluation in networks and networking organisations; and promote greater understanding and cooperation between funding agencies, networks and the networking organisations that they support

Outcome mapping : building learning and reflection into development programmes

EARL, Sarah
CARDEN, Fred
SMUTYLO, Terry
2002

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Assessing the impact of the efforts of a single external development agency is problematic because changes in the well-being of beneficiaries occur as a result of a ‘confluence of events’. Outcome mapping is a dynamic methodology that looks at the contribution an agency has made at project, programme or organisational level to influence the processes leading to changes in the behaviour, relationships, actions and activities of people and organisations. According to the authors, development is about people relating to each other and their environment. Outcome mapping is therefore a monitoring and evaluation system for current and completed activities and provides a framework and vocabulary for understanding changes and assessing efforts. It is based on principles of participation, iterative learning and evaluative thinking throughout.
This book includes a thorough explanation of the outcome mapping approach, and provides detailed information on workshop design and facilitation, as well as numerous worksheets and examples

Participation, relationships and dynamic change : new thinking on evaluating the work of international networks

CHURCH, Madeline
et al
2003

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Gives an overview discussion of the key characteristics of networks, noting that international development increasingly takes a network form. Networks typically put an emphasis on: facilitative leadership; building relationships and trust; light co-ordinating structure that allows decentralisation, autonomy and voluntary participation. However, these are charactersitics that traditional evaluation approaches have not been developed to address. Provides a useful check-list for evaluating networks and suggests some useful practical tools to approach the evaluation of networks, such as: ‘Contributions assessment’ to guage how effectively the network facilitates the circulation of resources, and enables people to make the contribution that they are capable of; ‘Clarification of aims and activities’ (adapted Weaver’s Triangle) tool to clarify how participants perspectives and activities diverge or converge over time; ‘Channels of Participation’ tool to assess how and were members interact in a network and look at changes over time; ‘Monitoring the edges’ to track independent networking stimulated but not through the centre

Special topics : networks [MandE News]

DAVIES, Rick
Ed

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This section of the MandENews website brings together information and discussion of the evaluation of networks, and how a network perspective can inform the design and evaluation of development programmes. It includes an events listing, sections on the evaluation of networks, social network analysis, and network analysis in development projects, specialist websites and blogs, journals, editorial comments, and an introduction to network models of development projects