Capacity building is now one of the most frequently invoked of current development concepts and yet it continues to defy a shared definition of what it means in practice. Is it possible that capacity building demands such a radically new form of practice, such a radically new form of thinking, that our current approaches are doomed to failure, not because we lack adequate models or ‘technologies’, but because our very approach to the issue is inadequate? Arguing that conventional capacity-building initiatives have tended to focus on the material and tangible aspects of the capacity of an organisation and its people to be critically self-aware, the author outlines some fundamental shifts which would be both entailed and generated by concentrating on the practice of the development practitioner in relation to organisational development, rather than focusing on external appearances or rushing to the training manuals.
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