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NGOs and Poverty Reduction in Tamil Nadu: Exploring a Knowledge-Sharing for Development Framework.

[phd thesis]

Langmann, Sten

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Abstract Poverty remains a concern in both the global and the Indian context, with poverty reduction being a major objective of current development planning processes. Existing Knowledge Management and development literatures characterise knowledge as a driver for both economic and social growth. Current theoretical frameworks of Knowledge-Based Development (KBD) and Knowledge for Poverty Alleviation (KPA), while illuminating economic dimensions of knowledge management, tend to underplay the importance of social and community needs. Consequently, there is a need for a new conceptualisation of a knowledge-sharing approach that addresses social and community needs and contributes to poverty reduction. The aim of this thesis is to explore an alternative post-colonial approach to the application of knowledge management to development, focused on the problem of poverty reduction in the context of NGOs operating in Tamil Nadu. In pursuing this aim, a substantive theory is generated that captures new conceptual and practical insights about the application of knowledge-sharing as a means of poverty reduction and of enhancing capabilities. To this end, a qualitative research design was adopted because it is a methodology that examines a social problem, providing opportunities for representing it in its wholeness and complexity. In doing so, emphasis is placed on insights gained from the ideas and perspectives of participants. The analysis draws on multiple sources of data, ranging from face-to-face interviews, photographs, and observations, to print media collected over a one-year period spent in Tamil Nadu. The data are analysed using phenomenological techniques that are exploratory and explanatory in nature. From the analysis a Knowledge Sharing for Development (KS4D) framework emerged as a way of capturing a knowledge-sharing alternative. It conceptualises how NGOs can more effectively share knowledge in ways that do not compromise or challenge their organisational autonomy and independence. The analysis begins with a description of an emergent Basic Social Problem (BSP) in which the dimension of poverty in Tamil Nadu are explored. Then, a Basic Institutional Problem (BIP) is identified that provides a conceptual understanding of the problems associated with knowledge- sharing, faced by NGOs in Tamil Nadu. The analysis concludes with a description and explanation of the KS4D framework including its potential benefits to NGOs. This thesis contributes to theory in that the KS4D framework expands on current knowledge-sharing approaches to development, by exploring the concept from a post-colonial perspective. The BIP expands on current understanding of barriers to knowledge-sharing in the literature, outlining a fundamental problem faced by NGOs in Tamil Nadu. The BSP contributes to theory in that it expands on current poverty understanding and their interrelationships. This thesis contributes to practice in that the KS4D framework presents an approach for NGOs to come together and share knowledge towards achieving common aims, addressing the BIP. The KS4D framework further contributes to practice in that it increases the impact of NGOs on their poverty reduction work, affecting the BSP. The BSP in practice is useful, as it presents an updated concept of poverty, with both overarching and specific elements, forming the practical environment in which NGOs operate. Future research in assessing the KS4D framework and BIP and BSP concepts in their applications include testing and assessing them across other states in India and in other national contexts. Further research could also address the need to refine and delineate the factors and dimensions of KS4D.
Keywords non-governmental organization; combating poverty; India; region; federal state; social problem; knowledge management; knowledge acquisition; educational inequality; social inequality; gender-specific factors; development aid policy; development aid; social construction
Classification Social Problems
Method qualitative empirical
Free Keywords Knowledge-sharing; Tamil Nadu
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
City Perth
Page/Pages 325 p.
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works