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Discovering development management
Discovering development management

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1 Starting your exploration

Copestake and Williams (2014, p. 149) state that:

Development management is in reality less a form of intervention than a process of interaction and discovery.

What they are suggesting here is that development management cannot be confined within the boundaries of a particular defined intervention, such as a development project or programme. Much of development is designed and delivered in the form of projects and programmes, so Copestake and Williams are presenting a significant challenge to the orthodoxy of development and development.

They are also suggesting that what development management does, or gives rise to, cannot be known in advance: it will emerge, and be discovered, through the interactions between all those who are involved in the process. This again constitutes something of a significant challenge to the way development management is understood and undertaken. Typically, there is an emphasis on planning: indeed, more forcefully, a requirement to be clear about what will happen over the lifetime of a project or programme, what it will ‘deliver’. In this course I want you to go beyond this ‘typical’ understanding of development management and see it precisely as what Copestake and Williams say it is: ‘a process of interaction and discovery’.

You will gather that I’m ‘with’ Copestake and Williams. However, I think they would have done better to have said:

Development management can be seen both as a form of intervention and as a process of interaction and discovery.

Development management has emerged and is practised around the idea of ‘intervention’: what development managers do is ‘intervene’. It makes sense to acknowledge and work with that understanding.

In making reference to ‘interaction and discovery’ Copestake and Williams open up development management, suggesting we should not simply accept the terms in which development management typically presents itself.

In this process of interaction and discovery, capacities that are essential for anyone interested and engaged in development management include:

  • the capacity to see development management for what it is, in its myriad forms and its messiness
  • the capacity to formulate judgements about development management, and in particular judgements about what might make ‘good’ development management
  • the capacity to communicate judgements.