Knowledge Management in ADB: A Brief History

Knowledge underpins development effectiveness. Recognizing this, ADB committed to become a learning institution and a primary source of development knowledge in Asia and the Pacific. Strategy 2020 reinforced this commitment when it underlined knowledge solutions as a driver of change in this decade.

In 2004, the Knowledge Management Framework signaled ADB's concerted efforts to become a learning organization. The framework pursues two mutually supportive outcomes: (i) increased assimilation of and dissemination by ADB of relevant, high-quality knowledge to developing member countries and other stakeholders, and (ii) enhanced learning within ADB.

In 2008, a review of the Framework recommended quick-wins in various areas. The recommendations resulted in the approval in July 2009 of the Knowledge Management Action Plan, 2009–2011, a comprehensive set of actions designed to ensure that ADB's knowledge continues to expand, is practical and usable to its staff and DMCs, and remains of the highest quality.

In March 2010, ADB crafted a Knowledge Management Results Framework to operationalize the action plan and monitor its implementation. In quarterly intervals beginning July 2010, ADB tracked the progress of the 37 action points specified.

The Knowledge Management Action Plan 2009–2011 was completed on 31 July 2011. Of the 37 action points, 70% had been fully adopted, 8% largely adopted, and 16% partially adopted by the plan's termination date.

Toward the end of 2011, ADB consolidated 3 specialized knowledge units (Economics and Research Department, Office of Regional Economic Integration, and Regional and Sustainable Development Department) and the Office of Information Systems and Technology under an expanded Vice-Presidency for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. In May 2012, it established a Knowledge Sharing and Services Center to support knowledge sharing, learning, and related support services across ADB and in DMCs. And, ADB's Planning Directions 2013–2015 underscore that "… knowledge solutions can add significant value to our investment operations, and are critical to development effectiveness."


ADB's Learning Challenges

ADB recognizes that learning is a continuing process, people should be developed, and listening to clients is a must. To this end, ADB has identified its barriers to learning and the actions that could help overcome them.

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Knowledge Management Framework, 2004

ADB's knowledge management and learning initiative is anchored in 5 key components:

  • improvied organizational structure for knowledge sharing;
  • improved management system;
  • improved business processes and information technology solutions for knowledge capture, enrichment, storage and retrieval;
  • well-functioning communities of practice; and
  • expanded knowledge sharing through external relations and networking.

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Knowledge Management Action Plan, 2009–2011

The action plan worked toward 4 key results:

  • a sharpened knowledge focus in its operations;
  • empowered communities of practice that enrich the performance of their sector and individual members;
  • external knowledge partnerships that produce sustainable outcomes; and
  • staff equipped with the right skills, knowledge, and drive to pursue ADB's vision.

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Results Framework

ADB developed a results framework to define realistic expected results, monitor progress toward their achievement, integrate lessons into decisions, and report on performance. It had 37 action points, which combined stand-alone projects with interconnected and continuing initiatives.

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