Should development agencies have Official Views?

The major development agencies have ex cathedra Official Views (with varying degrees of explicitness) on the complex and controversial questions of development. At the same time, knowledge is now more than ever recognised as key to development in the idea of a knowledge bank or knowledge-based development assistance. The author argues that these two practices are in direct conflict. When an agency attaches its brand name to certain Official Views, then it becomes very difficult for the agency to also be a learning organisation or to foster genuine learning in its clients. A model of a development agency as an open learning organisation, which is in sharp contrast to other organisational models such as the Church or the Party is outlined. That, in turn, allows the agency to take a more autonomy-compatible approach to development assistance with the assisted country in the drivers seat of a learning process rather than as the passive recipient of aid-sweetened policies from the agency. This article is freely available as a chapter in Development Methods and Approaches: Critical Reflections