How ADB's 'culture of communication' has changed

Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, former ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development. Photo by: Martin Löfgren / Global Water Partnership / CC BY-NC-SA

Learning from past mistakes and encouraging staff to share knowledge for increased aid effectiveness is a growing trend among the international development community.

Even organizations known to have an internal culture reluctant to speak up and openly talk failure are slowly learning that this is truly the only way to avoid tripping over the same stone twice. One of these institutions is the Asian Development Bank, which has made some notable progress on the issue, according to a former bank official.

For instance, ADB’s culture of communication has sometimes prevented the bank from listening as much as it should to its local partners and development stakeholders, Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, former ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development (2006-2011), explained in an exclusive interview with Devex.

“There was some hesitation [before] and some staff [were] a little reluctant to share their best practices or failures from one country to another because they thought this could really be a personal problem for them in their career path,” said the former bank official and current chair of the Global Water Partnership, who added that communication between headquarters and country offices, in particular, used to be a problem, “but now, it's much more active in terms of dialogue.”

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About the author

  • Lean 2

    Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Prior to joining Devex, he covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics. Lean is based in Manila.