GPSA Forum: Learning for Adaptive Management Workshop Sessions

May 19, 2016
World Bank HQ

As part of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) Forum, GDI will participate in the workshop entitled "Can funders ‘afford’ to invest in how they learn? Can their clients and partners afford it if they don’t?"

There is renewed interest among donors about how to work more adaptively, respond to changing contexts and develop adaptive competences and incentives for better results delivery. It implies changing not only their own internal learning and knowledge management approaches, but also institutional cultures and day-to-day practices. In social accountability initiatives, where progress is dependent on working adaptively across multiple actors in response to citizen feedback, this becomes particularly important. Even so, building an internal culture for working more adaptively may not be easy when institutional incentives and informal knowledge sharing practices do not align with the experimentation and risk-taking that learning-by-doing often calls for in social accountability interventions. Can donor institutions like the World Bank afford to invest in how they learn?  More importantly, however, can its clients and beneficiaries afford it if they don’t?

Two recent Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) evaluations of Learning and Results at the World Bank, found among other things that while tacit knowledge (the knowledge contained in people’s heads) can spark innovation and lead to operational breakthrough, it is often not used systematically. The Bank’s 2015 World Development Report ‘Mind, Society, and Behavior’ points to a number of innovative approaches. Similarly, recent efforts by DFID to develop a set of Smart Rules for programme delivery have aimed at stripping back process, reducing internal bureaucracy, and removing non-value added approval layers. USAID, as a funder of Making All Voices Count, has also sought to apply a more adaptive approach to its programming in the field of social accountability, democracy and governance promotion. 

This GPSA Forum workshop will gather some of the lessons in donors’ efforts to respond to an increasing need to work adaptively, with a chance for participants including GDI, to discuss what the implications for advancing social accountability are. 


  • Charlotte Ørnemark, Knowledge & Learning Team, GPSA


  • Soniya Carvalho, Lead Evaluation Officer, Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), The World Bank Group
  • Bruce Kay, Chief, Governance and Rule of Law Division, USAID Democracy, Human Rights & Governance Center
  • Maria Gonzalez de Asis, Lead Operations Officer, Programme Manager, Science of Delivery Team & Global Delivery Initiative, World Bank
  • Katherine Bain, Senior Governance Specialist, World Bank
  • Alexandra Maclean, Social Development Adviser, Empowerment & Accountability Team, Policy Division, Department for International Development (DFID), UK