By Tim Campbell, PhD. Urban Age Institute.
This paper draws on quantitative evidence and case examples from both developed and developing countries to construct a typology of mainstream modes of city learning. Case observations suggest that the best learners are deliberate and systematic, finding or creating new knowledge, converting it to use, and storing learning experiences that draw on collective memory. Useful knowledge of learning resides in two main forms: one is hard data, stored in documents, computers, or specialized units of government; another is soft data stored in professional and social networks that link a wide array of actors in the community, not just staff in the city bureaucracy. The overarching conclusions of the paper are that several kinds of learning systems can be observed, that these should be explored more carefully, that policies can help to facilitate learning, and that a radical departure from customary policy, especially in donor institutions, may be needed to effectively meet requirements of institutional capacity building in cities of the developing world.