Most major development NGOs dedicate significant resources to advocacy. Many also work to inform and shape public opinion. They argue that fundamental change is not achieved until the policy environment is right, and cannot be sustained with the groundswell of support for reform. In recent years, however, advocacy work has come under increasing criticism. NGOs are challenged on the grounds of legitimacy: whom do they represent, and to whom are they accountable? What practical impact does high-level advocacy have on the lives of people living in poverty, and who is to judge this?
As development NGOs and official aid agencies embrace the idea of becoming a learning organisation, they are increasingly concerned with some form of knowledge generation and organisational learning. To date, the literature on these issues has tended to come out of the private sector and reflect a Western world view. Development and the Learning Organisation presents contributions from development scholars and practitioners from a range of institutional backgrounds around the world.