Networks (2005)

April 25, 2016

From its launch in 1970, IDRC adopted a new approach to providing international development assistance. IDRC's philosophy was to work with the people who hoped to benefit from the aid, and to set research agendas in collaboration with local partners.

Networks have been at the core of this cooperative approach.

This webpage draws together the rich experience that IDRC has gained from its everyday experience with networks over many years and from a strategic evaluation carried out during 2004-2006. It provides:

  • consolidation of IDRC documentation on networks from 1995
  • extensive material from IDRC's strategic evaluation of its experience supporting research networks, 1995-2005
  • How does IDRC define networks?
  • What has IDRC learned about supporting networks?
  • What evaluations of networks has IDRC conducted?

How does IDRC define networks?

Although "network" is an everyday word, IDRC applies the term specifically to the types of shared activities and institutions that are common in international development research. These may include what are called teams, alliances, partnerships, exchanges, joint ventures, consortia, conferences, congresses, forums, seminars, and so on.

IDRC defines networks as social arrangements of organizations and/or individuals linked together around a common theme or purpose, working jointly but allowing members to maintain their autonomy as participants. Networks promote knowledge sharing, facilitate communication, and foster a culture of innovation and change.

Regardless of purpose, networks can have:

  • formal or informal structures
  • open or closed membership that is either all researchers or multi-sectorial
  • on-going, general objectives and /or time bound specific objectives

What has IDRC learned about supporting networks?

IDRC has always recognized the importance of networks in supporting development research. Below are links to documentation around certain topics of interest.

What evaluations of networks has IDRC conducted?

Through evaluations, IDRC aims to become more aware of the rich experience it has gained in working with networks. A comprehensive strategic evaluation, launched in 2004, began unlocking this information in order to nourish more effective networks in the future. The evaluation concentrated on three core issues: the results of IDRC-supported networks, the sustainability of these networks, and the coordination and governance of these structures.

In this section you will find documents from the strategic evaluation and others that cover different aspects of IDRC's work with research for development networks.

Visit our Publications site to see what else we have written on networks (tip: use the keyword search)