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The Power of Peer Learning   

The Power of Peer Learning

Networks and Development Cooperation
Jean-H. Guilmette
Published by
Academic Foundation, New Delhi
in association with
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
Ottawa, Canada.
Paperback Book (6" x 8½") :   Pages : 258
2007  Edition   :   ISBN -81-7188-622-1
Price : Rs. 595.00 ;  US $ 39.95
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An ancient Chinese proverb tells us “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same can be said for development assistance. Solutions provided by outside “experts” are often rejected or politely shelved. However, solutions based on the principle of “self-help” are far more likely to take root.

This book explores the self-help, peer learning approach of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), comparing it with that of IDRC. It focuses on the importance of networks to development and growth, and demonstrates that network management is fundamentally different from the management of companies, organizations, or other bodies that fall under a single authority.

The book will be of interest to planners, policymakers, and researchers in the industrialised and developing worlds, and particularly in the new and emerging democracies of Eastern Europe.


Jean-H. Guilmette served as the Director of IDRC’s division for Central and Eastern Europe initiatives from 1995 to 2005. He is former Executive Director of the African Development Bank, Director of the OECD’s Sahel Club, and Director General of the Strategic Planning Unit in the Africa and Middle-East branch of the Canadian International Development Agency.


List of Tables and Boxes




Acronyms and Abbreviations

1. The Conceptual Framework

Section 1: Alliances and Cooperation: Emergence of a New Post-War Paradigm

1.1 Fifteen Hundred Years of War

1.2 Five Characteristics of the New Paradigm

1.3 Overall Impact of the New Paradigm

1.4 Role of Human Rights and Democratic Governance in Functioning of OECD Methodologies

Section 2: From Paradigm Shift to Institutional Activities

2.1 Multilateral Organizations with Universal Membership

2.2 International and Regional Organizations with Limited Membership

2.3 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

2.4 International Policy Regimes and Coordinating Institutions

Section 3: International Development Cooperation

3.1 The Marshall Plan

3.2 The Colombo Plan

3.3 Official Development Assistance (ODA)

3.4 Aid and the International Projection of Ideas

3.5 Aid Volumes and Impact

Section 4: The Cooperation Paradigm and the Former Eastern Bloc

4.1 The ‘Magic’ of the Market

4.2 Reform: A Complex, Multifaceted Process

4.3 Need for New and Relevant Aid Instruments

Section 5: Relevance of the IDRC and OECD Experience to Eastern European Countries


2. Development and Networks as Instruments for Change

Section 1: Experiences in Development

1.1 Lessons Learned from the Japanese Experience

Section 2: Era of Cooperative Undertakings

2.1 Informal Networks

2.2 Multinational and Formal Networks

Section 3: The Case of Former Soviet Countries

Section 4: Scientific Networks: IDRC Experience

Part 1: IDRC and Scientific Networks

4.1.1 Background

4.1.2 IDRC’s Legal Foundation

4.1.3 IDRC’s Vision

4.1.4 IDRC’s Methodology

4.1.5 Assessing IDRC Sponsored Networks

4.1.6 Linkage between Research, Networks and Policy Setting

Part 2: IDRC and the Dnieper River

4.2.1 Introduction

4.2.2 Learning to Work in Terra Incognita

Section 5: Components of the EMDU Program and Immediate Results

5.1 Water Pollution Control

Section 6: Effects of the Program on Policy Formulation

6.1 Expanding Policy Capacities

6.2 Program’s Impact

Section 7: Moving Toward Regional Networks and Management of the GEF Program

3. OECD’s Basic Rules of Conduct—A Sociology of its Institutional Culture


Section 1: Foundations of the OECD’s Institutional Culture

1.1 Historical Background

1.2 OECD’s Basic Rules of Conduct or the Values of the Institution

1.3 OECD Structure and Functions

1.4 Economics Department

1.5 OECD’s Basic Rules of Conduct

1.6 OECD’s ‘Etiquette’ or Unwritten Behavioural Principles

Section 2: A Network Driven by Peer Pressure

2.1 Peer Pressure

Section 3: Consensual Discipline and Dynamic Tension

3.1 Maintaining Balance

3.2 Mechanisms for Softening the Rigours of Consensus

Section 4: Policy Process, Blending Negotiations and Research

4.1 Defining a Common Agenda through ‘Preliminary Inquiry’

4.2 Establishing Reliable and Comparable Databases

4.3 Analyzing the Data

4.5 Forecasting

4.6 Recommendations

4.7 Peer Review

Section 5: Supportive Policies

5.1 Personnel Policy

5.2 Role of a ‘Wise Director’

5.3 Publication Policy

Section 6: Adapting the OECD Methodology to a New Cultural Environment

6.1 Respect for Essential Linkages

6.2 Introduction of New Values

Section 7: Summary and Conclusions

4. OECD Techniques for Managing the Iterative Policy Process within a Multicultural Environment

Section 1: The Policy Process

1.1 What is a ‘Policy’?

1.2 OECD Influence in National Policy Drafting

Section 2: Arriving at Policy Consensus within a Cross-Cultural Environment

2.1 Development and Culture

2.2 The Balance of Social Systems: Weights, Drifts and Counterweights

2.3 Bonthous’ Four Key Dimensions for Gathering Intelligence

2.4 Defining a ‘Story Line’

Section 3: Managing the Negotiation Process

3.1 Roles Ascribed to Various Actors

Section 4: Syntax for Key Documents

4.1 The Annotated Agenda

4.2 The Syntax for Summary Record

4.3 The Syntax of the Communiqué

4.4 The Syntax of Peer Reviews

Section 5: Organization of Meetings: From Workshops and Seminars to Committees and Plenary

5.1 Expectations and Results

5.2 The Agenda as a Management Tool

5.3 Time Management

5.4 Real Cost of an International Seminar

5.5 Managing Workshop Meetings: Room Set-up

5. Why Does it Work?

Section 1: OECD and Complexity

1.1 The Nature of Complexity

1.2 Complexity, Diversity and Adaptation

1.3 The Creation of OECD: An Injection of Simplicity and Intelligence

Section 2: Examples of What Works and What Doesn’t

2.1 OECD and Health: Facing Complexity

2.2 The Bribery Convention, an Unambiguous Success Story

3.3 The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), A bridge too far…

3.4 The Club du Sahel: A Unique Experiment

Section 3: Conclusion

Post Face: This Leaves a Few Haunting Questions

Appendix: Glossary


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