National Academies Press: OpenBook

Prospectus for National Knowledge Assessment (1996)

Chapter: 3 Next Steps

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Suggested Citation:"3 Next Steps." National Research Council. 1996. Prospectus for National Knowledge Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9528.


Next Steps

This prospectus is intended to describe the objectives, methodology, and expected results from a National Knowledge Assessment. Although knowledge assessment has elements that have been tested in other contexts, it also has aspects that are untried. To our knowledge, creating a map of a National Knowledge System from a template at a national symposium is at the least unusual, and the virtual case studies may be a new experience. In order to prepare a full manual of operations, it will be necessary to carry out a pilot project in a receptive country. A draft template for the national knowledge system will be prepared. During a national symposium, the template will be completed and then converted into a draft National Knowledge System following the procedure described above. The sentinel enterprises will then be selected, and the virtual case study teams will be recruited. Following the virtual case studies, the team will compile the necessary data from national and international sources and prepare the interview guides. The interviews will be carried out by local members of the team. The knowledge assessment team and local experts will prepare recommendations and the pilot knowledge assessment report. Finally, in a step that would not normally be part of the knowledge assessment procedure, a follow-up workshop will be held in the country to evaluate the experience and the recommendations, and the manual of operations will be revised and completed in light of this experience.

Some steps should be carried out before the pilot project is taken to the country.


If knowledge assessment is to be an effective tool for the World Bank for planning technical assistance to developing countries, it is important that those who are going to use it have an opportunity to participate in the creation and leave their stamp on it. First, a series of briefings will bring the idea to those World Bank staff who would have responsibility for implementing it. Next a country should be selected for the pilot project. At this point it might be useful for some World Bank staff with responsibilities for that country, together with some key figures in the country, to participate in a second step, the simulation of the virtual case studies. This could have two advantages and two potential disadvantages. It would help refine the methodology and sharpen the skills of the knowledge assessment team before the pilot project, and it would give country Bank officers themselves a new perspective on knowledge, much as it is expected to do for national members of the assessment team. The disadvantages would be that the participants might get the sensation that they themselves had carried out the knowledge assessment for all intents and purposes, and that prolonging the launching with preparatory exercises might dissipate enthusiasm for the knowledge assessment in the field. The simulation is also not without some cost. The decision on whether and how to carry out a simulation must be left to the responsible Bank officers.

During a simulation, NRC and World Bank staff of diverse national origin would engage in a role-playing exercise. Bank staff familiar with the target country would be asked to assume roles to test their reaction to the “game,” in a way similar to the home recreational murder mystery games in which players are assigned characters and asked to further the fictitious characters' interests as the game progresses. They would go through the process of virtual case study for a hypothetical knowledge-based enterprise, and identify barriers and opportunities according to their own experience and knowledge of the country. It will be particularly interesting to compare the outcome from the joint staff team with that of the real team in the country, and that itself should provide perspective for the final evaluation. Since the virtual case study itself is a sort of simulation, this exercise might be called a virtual virtual case study.


The pilot project will be carried out in a receptive country, and should produce a valid knowledge assessment

Suggested Citation:"3 Next Steps." National Research Council. 1996. Prospectus for National Knowledge Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9528.

experience and report. The time and level of effort necessary will be somewhat higher than the expected norm, because the pilot will be the vehicle for the preparation of templates, interview guides, metrics, virtual case study procedures, and experience interpreting data from national and international sources. It will also include the final workshop for evaluation.

Establish Template and Metrics

One of the earliest tasks in the pilot project will be to prepare the template for the National Knowledge System. The National Knowledge System itself will be specific for the country and reflect the reality of the economy, institutions, government organization, industry structure, and educational system. The template, however, will be general. It will include the functions that relate to the motivation, creation, access, assimilation, diffusion, and use of knowledge in the society, an expansion and refinement of table 1 . The draft template will be prepared by the knowledge assessment team and refined in collaboration with World Bank staff, and during the pilot project it will presented in draft for discussion by the national symposium. (Normally the national symposium will see only the finished template and proceed directly to the mapping of the National Knowledge System.)

The metrics that will be used as a standard for these functions will arise from the virtual case studies. These metrics will be used for both constructing base-line data and establishing benchmarks based on best practice.

Proving the Process

The main goal of the pilot project is to demonstrate that the knowledge assessment process will produce practical, effective recommendations in a reasonable time. The optimal number of participants in the national symposium, the time necessary, the ideal time interval between the national symposium and the visit of the team for the virtual case studies, the skill mix of the team, the number of sentinel enterprises, the time to be allotted for each, the time and effort necessary for preparation of the report to the government and the World Bank, and, not least, the cost, can best be estimated after completion of the pilot.

Feedback and Evaluation

The response of host nationals and government will guide the institutionalization of the knowledge assessment process, and the final workshop held after the submission of the report will secure feedback from the participants and recipients.

Evaluation will be an important element of the pilot, in two senses. During the pilot the process itself will be evaluated, and a part of the national symposium and each virtual case study will be dedicated to discussion and improvement of the process. Questionnaires and other evaluation instruments will be attached to the interview guides, templates, and other documentation, and distributed to participants at the national symposium and virtual case studies. Second, a system for evaluation of the results of the knowledge assessment will be built into the process, so that the changes that are adopted by governments and the private sector, and the number of real knowledge-based enterprises that are created, will be recorded.

Manual of Operations

The experience gained in the pilot project and the subsequent evaluations will be codified into a manual of operations for knowledge assessment that can be used generally by uninitiated implementers, including teams hired by the host countries themselves. This could be incorporated into a data base on the Internet, where it could include continually updated users' comments and suggestions as part of the manual.


The time necessary to complete the pilot project, prepare the manual and produce a workable system that can be used in other settings will be slightly over one year. Specific activities are shown below in relation to the commencement of the pilot project.


















Recruit & train team




National symposium


Team visit


virtual case studies




data compilation







Team retreat and report writing


Followup workshop and evaluation


Report and manual publication


Suggested Citation:"3 Next Steps." National Research Council. 1996. Prospectus for National Knowledge Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9528.
Page 23
Suggested Citation:"3 Next Steps." National Research Council. 1996. Prospectus for National Knowledge Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9528.
Page 24
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