Publication Date

1999

Abstract

This paper examines the way in which World Education, Inc. (WEI), an international non-governmental organization (NGO) manages knowledge when working with external consultants and identifies mechanisms that can be put into place to facilitate the building of institutional capacity. In principle, as members of an organization acquire knowledge, the organization itself becomes more competent. In practice, however, considerable effort must be made to ensure that the knowledge of individuals within the organization is managed effectively in order for the capacity of the institution to increase. This process is even more complicated when the activities of the organization are executed by outside individuals, i.e. external consultants. WEI Africa division staff members are concerned about the impact our use of external consultants is having on the capacity of WEI to learn and grow as an organization. Knowledge Management helps an organization have the capacity to become more effective every passing day with the gathering of institutional memory the way human beings have the capacity to become more effective and mature every day with the accumulation of thoughts and memories. Three cases in which WEI-Mali used external consultants are analyzed in terms of four Knowledge Management Processes: Capturing and Documenting, Organizing and Storing, Sharing and Distributing, and Applying and Leveraging knowledge. Lessons from the fields of Consulting and Outsourcing are incorporated into the study. This study is useful to WEI and to organizations of similar mission and structure, as well as to external consultants wishing to maximize the learning of their client organizations.

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