Networks and Capacity
A case study prepared for the project ‘Capacity, Change and Performance’ organised by ECDPM.
Increasingly, we live in a world of networks. This is having a profound impact on the way we organise at local, national and international levels (Church et al., 2002). The growth of networks as an organisational form is widely seen as a response to an increasingly complex and inter-connected world which has spawned an array of arrangements for collaboration among actors with similar or shared interests. The network revolution has been fuelled by rapid advances in information and communications technologies (ICTs) that have opened up new possibilities for information sharing and cooperation.
The impact of these changes has been felt in many domains, including the field of international develop- ment where networks have become a significant force, bringing together diverse actors to address a range of development challenges. With this revolution comes the task of developing new ways of thinking and new tools to better understand and deal with the opportunities and challenges associated with networks as an organisational form.
Networks have existed for millennia, bringing together the poor and marginalised, agriculturalists, political groups, academics and researchers, among others. Their existence has served to underpin and strengthen relationships in societies and promote social capital. In contemporary society, networks exist in diverse forms linking individuals and organisations with a shared interest in exchanging ideas, generating knowledge or mobilising capacity for collective action.