Erfaringsudveksling i Fondo Común: En analyse af fondens udfordringer med organisationernes evne og vilje til at udveksle

Tea Lund

Student thesis: Master thesis


During my internship at the Danish Embassy in Nicaragua in 2009/10 I became acquainted with the foundation Fondo Común (The Common Foundation), a foundation established by European embassies and corporations. The main goal of Fondo Común is to give economically support to the organisations of the civil society, that work with democracy and human rights. Besides giving money to the organisations’ projects, the foundation also has a goal to improve the work of the organisations by helping them build up their capacities. One of the ways Fondo Común wants to help the organisations is to arrange exchange of experiences between them so they can learn from each other. This was the topic that caught my attention. I wanted to know how the foundation conducted this exchange of experiences and I wanted to examine whether this process had potential for improvement in order to make the projects more efficient. My empirical data consist of observation of the last workshop Fondo Común arranged in 2009 about exchange of experiences. Also the reports from five other workshops they have organised regarding exchange of experiences are included. Furthermore, I executed nine interviews with different actors in Fondo Común and three interviews with leaders of international organisations working in Nicaragua. To do my research on this collected empirical data I have applied Ikujiro Nonaka’s SECI-model that explains the process of exchanging both tacit and explicit knowledge. I have also utilized the factors of Morten T. Hansen’s two barriers “the hoarding barrier” and “the not-invented-here barrier” and supplemented these with the factors presented by Peter Holdt Christensen as barriers to the willingness to share knowledge. With this theoretical framework as point of departure I have focused on the ability and willingness of the organisations to exchange experiences with each other. My analysis shows that the organisations have difficulties in this regard. In stead they exchange explicit information, which can also be an important part of the exchange process, but the experiences about what they have learned from their work is also very valuable to share. It is not all organisations that participate actively in the exchange process, due to the big number of participants present at the workshops. Only a few organisations get to present their knowledge to the rest of the participants and the presented knowledge is not discussed in detail afterwards. When it comes to the organisations, many barriers are affecting their willingness to share. Fondo Común has not created a strong incentive for the exchange and there is not even one organisation that presents a bad experience because they fear to lose face in front of the others. The competition that appears to exist between the organisations is also challenging the willingness to share as well as the lack of time to work with this process. It appears in my analysis that it is not only the individual participant in the exchange process who is causing these difficulties and challenges. Actually, it is more the national culture and the way that Fondo Común organises the exchange process that has an effect on the participant’s ability and willingness to exchange experiences. In the Nicaraguan culture individuals are not taught to reflect on their work nor evaluating what went good and what went bad. At the same time all the donors in Nicaragua helping out the civil society are building a culture with strong competition where the organisations are afraid of sharing their weak sides. Fondo Común has arranged the exchange of experiences together with education related to different topics such as advocacy and social audit. The number of participants at the arranged workshops has been too high for the exchange process and there has not been a continuous dialog because the topics, moreover, the participants have not been the same. Therefore, it has not been possible to establish the good relationship and the trust between the participants, which is required for successful knowledge sharing. On the basis of the theory and the analysis I end this dissertation giving Fondo Común some advise for how they can improve the process of exchanging experiences between the organisations.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages71