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Understanding Capacity Development

Authors: Asmita Tiwari,

Publish Date: 2015
Volume: , Issue:, Pages: 33-51
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The practice of capacity development is considered a “silver bullet” or a “cure all” by development scholars and practitioners. The concept, however, falls short of achieving any meaningful changes on the ground. In practice, the concept is applied without understanding how actual capacity building takes place, how institutions evolve, and how to define development in the first place. It is thus no surprise that the concept is now becoming associated with quite the opposite of what it intends to do. The scholars are now referring to a “capability trap” and further hollowing of capacity as the concept is applied in a rushed, top-down, and supply-driven manner. Though capacity building has different meanings to different groups, scholars and practitioners have developed variables and indicators to describe different aspects of capacity building. The literature suggests that there is no systematic framework to help scholars and practitioners understand and measure sustainable capacity development. This chapter provides a brief overview of the current literature and debates on capacity building within the larger landscape of international development practice. The chapter is divided into three main parts: (i) definitions and historical evolution of the capacity development concept, (ii) main research areas, and (iii) gaps in the current research.



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