This paper is part of the series Lessons for change about organisational learning, resulting from a collaboration between ActionAid, DFID, Sida and the Participation Group at the Institute of Development Studies to explore understandings of learning and to document innovative approaches. Based on the author's own experience of working for development agencies, most recently as head of a country office in Latin America, this paper also draws on research carried out in 2003 and supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Asia Regional Policy Research Fund. This included interviewing DFID's partners in one country and running workshops for DFID staff in the same and in two other country offices. The first draft also benefited very considerably from the opportunity of sharing ideas and experience at a workshop in Sahy, Sao Paolo on Partnerships and Influencing, described in another paper in this series. The paper summarises the principal theme and poses some questions for readers to consider and discuss, possibly in workshops that they may wish to organise. It briefly reviews and critiques current understandings of influencing in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and provides examples from Latin America of efforts to take the agenda further. It looks at how these understandings have been applied and developed in parts of Asia. Finally it proposes some fundamental principles for influencing and explores the operational implications of these for teams in country offices of DFID and other international development agencies.
Institute of Development Studies