Unraveling knowledge brokering partnerships with partners in Low-and Middle-Income Countries

Knowledge brokering,News25 Jul 2023Sasha Al Busaidy

The Broker, together with four Dutch Knowledge Platforms, finalized a project on knowledge brokering partnerships with Low- and Middle-Income Countries. This article offers insights into the process of the project and presents a two pager summarizing the main insights. You can download the two pager “Unraveling Knowledge Brokering Partnerships: Insights from Collaborations between Dutch Knowledge Platforms and Partners in Low-and Middle-Income Countries” below!

A Comprehensive and Collaborative Study on Learning Partnerships 

The Dutch Knowledge Platforms for Development Cooperation are on a mission to revolutionize international development cooperation. By embracing knowledge brokering and partnering with organizations from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), they are driving inclusive initiatives that tackle crucial issues in the fields of inclusive development, human security, economic development, food security, and sexual and reproductive health. These partnerships prioritize mutual learning and diverse perspectives, pushing for equitable collaboration and decolonization of international development cooperation. However, the role of knowledge brokering in international development cooperation remains largely uncharted. The Broker and four of the Dutch knowledge platforms – INCLUDE Knowledge platform, Knowledge Platform Security and Rule of Law, the Netherlands Food Partnership, and Share-Net International – joined forces to embark on a comprehensive study, unravelling the complexities of knowledge brokering in international development partnerships. Our aim? To strengthen the bridge between North and South learning partnerships, paving the way for a brighter, more collaborative future.

Towards Flexible Learning Partnerships Guided by Co-creation 

This study involved a literature review, several case studies, and an interactive workshop with representatives from the knowledge platforms, their partners, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The literature review defined knowledge brokering and co-creation. Additionally, we identified current good practices – establishing clarity over roles and responsibilities – and barriers to effective knowledge brokering partnerships – complex governance structures –  providing valuable guidance in framing our study.

Knowledge brokering can be seen as a journey and defined as the iterative process of facilitating the exchange, co-creation and application of knowledge between different stakeholders. A growing awareness of the multiplicity of knowledge and actors led to a focus on its collaborative nature and specifically co-creation.

Knowledge co-creation is widely recognised as a key process involved in knowledge brokering and is defined as: “the combined process of setting the agenda, identifying knowledge questions and jointly carrying out research and other activities to generate new knowledge.” 1

During the case studies, we learned that knowledge brokering collaborations are of added value for all involved. The knowledge platforms greatly valued the in-country networks provided by their LMIC partners and the resultant assurance that knowledge brokering activities were context-specific. Similarly, LMIC partners were appreciative of the connections and networking opportunities provided by the knowledge platforms. However, power imbalances between partners persist, driven by complex governance, funding, and accountability structures. This has an impact on the dynamics of decision-making and trust. To address these challenges the study advises fostering flexible and equitable learning partnerships guided by co-creation principles.

To learn more about our findings and recommendations you can read the two pager summarizing the study outcomes.

Equitable Knowledge Brokering in Practice 

True to the advice of this report, the final interactive workshop provided a space where participants could co-create the recommendations of this project. Facilitated by The Broker, the session explored the definitions of knowledge brokering and what more flexible and equitable knowledge co-creation would look like in practice. While questions remain around how to appropriately adapt funding mechanisms and project structures to adequately consider multiple interests, the participants left the workshop with resources to improve co-creation and a renewed commitment to joint learning. Questions, reflections, and good practices have been compiled on this online board. If you would like to know more about this project and our continued work on knowledge brokering and co-creation please reach out.


1 See The Gold Standard: Exploring the added value of the Dutch knowledge platforms (Lammers & De Winter, D. 2017).