The Social Realities of Knowledge for Development: Sharing Lessons of Improving Development Processes with Evidence

Published on 6 March 2017

This edited collection of peer-reviewed papers explores critical challenges faced by organisations and individuals involved in evidence-informed development through a diverse set of case studies and think-pieces. In this chapter we briefly set out the foundations of the trend in evidence-informed decision-making and reflect on a fast-changing development knowledge landscape.

The dominant themes emerging from the contributions provide the structure for this chapter, including: building networks and partnerships; contextualisation of knowledge and power dynamics; and modes of knowledge brokerage. An analysis of these themes, and the respective roles of researchers, non-governmental organisations, large programmes and policy actors, suggests that a common thread running throughout is the importance of social relationships. We find that the social and interactive realities of mobilising knowledge comprise several layers: (i) individual and collective capacities, (ii) individual relationships, (iii) networks and group dynamics, and (iv) cultural norms and politics, which are all key to understanding how to make evidence really matter.


Introduction: The social realities of knowledge for developmentJames Georgalakis, Nasreen Jessani, Rose Oronje and Ben Ramalingam

The NGO-Academia Interface: Realising the shared potentialDuncan Green

Translating health research to policy: Breaking through the impermeability barrierGita Sen, Altaf Virani, Aditi Iyer, Bhavya Reddy and S. Selvakumar

Engaging the middle: Using research to support progress on gender, education and poverty reduction initiatives in Kenya and South AfricaAmy North, Elaine Unterhalter and Herbert Makinda

How collaboration, early engagement and collective ownership increase research impact: Strengthening community-based child protection mechanisms in Sierra LeoneMichael Wessells, David Lamin, Marie Manyeh, Dora King, Lindsay Stark,Sarah Lilley and Kathleen Kostelny

Evidence-informed decision-making: Experience from the design and implementation of community health strategy in KenyaPamela Juma and Dan Kaseje

From Intermediate Technology to Technology Justice: The knowledge sharing journey of Practical ActionToby Milner

Evidence and innovation: Lessons learned from the MSF Scientific DaysKim West, Kiran Jobanputra, Philipp du Cros, Robin Vincent-Smith,Sarah Venis

Supporting impact across a multi-dimensional research programmeLouise Shaxson

Complexities of knowledge translation Reflections from REACH-PI Uganda’s rapid response mechanismRhona Mijumbi-Deve, Marie-Gloriose Ingabire and Nelson K. Sewankambo

Using knowledge brokerage to strengthen African voices in global decision-making on HIV and AIDSDanielle Doughman, Kathy Kantengwa and Ida Hakizinka

The pursuit of impact through excellence: The value of social science for development, a funder’s perspectiveCraig Bardsley


Image of James Georgalakis

James Georgalakis

Director of Communications and Impact

Publication details

published by
Georgalakis, J., Jessani, N., Oronje, R., and Ramalingam, B.


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