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This article presents evidence from Uganda’s National Agricultural Advisory Service to argue that the concept of ‘the learning organisation’ is a valuable complement to participatory development which may facilitate a shift towards more democratic development institutions in which target beneficiaries have a stronger voice in planning and managing development. The concept of ‘the learning organisation’ as developed within the literature of management studies cannot, however, be readily translated into anything as specific as a clear set of practical guidelines. Rather it acts as a seed that grows to take on characteristics specific to the rural development context.

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