An Unusual Suspect NWO


There is a considerable body of research on knowledge brokering in international development but it generally focuses on the usual suspects: development practice, policy and research. We will focus on an increasingly important unusual suspect in knowledge brokering, namely the private sector. The involvement of the private sector in international development is being reinforced by the Sustainable Development Goals (UN 2015) because of the private sector’s supposed potential to scale up development initiatives and reach new audiences.


The project will have two research hubs. The Dutch hub will analyse the varied experience of five Dutch knowledge platforms with the private sector, as well European knowledge brokering initiatives. The Ugandan hub will focus on Ugandan and African knowledge brokering initiatives. The project will employ the same mixed-methods methodology (scoping literature review, in-depth interviews, surveys, and online and face-to-face consultation) in both locations so that the hubs will be able to compare findings across contexts and sectors.

Expected results

For development practice, the project will develop insights into successful modalities for collaborating with the private sector. For development policy, it will provide advice for policy makers and research funders on how to develop a policy framework which facilitates knowledge brokering activities with the private sector, tailored to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research-Science for Global Development (NWO-WOTRO) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), while also relevant to other donors and research funders.

For science, it will develop new theoretical and conceptual insights on the private sector in knowledge creation and exchange in international development, using a powerful conceptual lens, social capital. For the private sector, it will provide advice on how to engage in knowledge brokering in international development.

For more information, see the website of the NWO.