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Rockefeller Foundation: How We Invest in Capacity Building

By Joyce Lewinger Moock


he past 20 years have given rise to one of the most massive accumulations of knowledge and information in human history. Digital information and communications technologies have revolutionized the ways in which knowledge and technical know-how move around the world. Genetics and biotechnology are ushering in a new epoch of innovation in the fields of agriculture and human health. And the emergence of new finance and investment models, like social enterprise and venture capital, has helped turn knowledge into unprecedented wealth. Yet this proliferation of knowledge and expertise threatens to widen the gap between rich and poor throughout the world. In 2004, the 10th anniversary of the Internet becoming widely available to the public, 75 percent of Americans had regular access to the Internet; in Africa, Internet market penetration was below 1.2 percent. Further, one wonders about the content of what is being transmitted. Without the ability to access, produce, transfer and disseminate information, universities, research centers, service organizations and small start-up private enterprises in the developing world are at a distinct disadvantage in a knowledge economy. If we are to take full advantage of the soaring knowledge economy, with its proliferation of different types of information providers, we must change how we think about training, organizational functioning and organizational interaction. Economies are lifted by investments in the best individual minds, the best-functioning institutions and the latest smartly utilized information technology. Not only are poor countries and weak organizations ill-equipped to compete in international markets; worse, they are unable to respond successfully to demands by local clientele and communities. Recognizing that capacity building is central to achieving economic growth, reducing poverty and equalizing opportunity, foundations and bilateral and multilateral funding agencies have taken a newfound interest in this fundamental area. The timing seems right. Not only is the information revolution upon us, but trends towards democratization, government decentralization and economic liberalization have profoundly reshaped how universities, nongovernmental organizations and other public-interest organizations do their work, presenting them with new challenges and opportunities. National governments, for example, play a much smaller role in developing policy and delivering services than they once did. With less public funding, public-interest organizations must have a

strong concept of a relevant knowledge-based economy, and they must have a greater market orientationnot necessarily as commercial entities per se, but rather as organizations attuned to issues once considered the purview of business: management, finance, innovation, customer service, marketing, and the capacity to help clientele themselves acquire and communicate knowledge. There is now an opportunity for funding agencies and others to play a more active role in stimulating strategic thinking and bold innovation in the field of capacity building. Traditionally, the type of capacity building supported by many funding agencies has focused more on professional skills rather then on building institutional competence. It has emphasized technical and analytical tools over problem solving and policy relevance. It has looked more to the pipeline production of professionals than to their career tracks and skill utilization. And it has promoted the strengthening of individual institutions over the sort of coordination among multiple, differentiated institutions that can propel and sustain entire professional fields. By contrast, capacity building in the new millennium will have to contend not only with the challenges presented by new national, regional and global contexts, but also with the increased scale of knowledge accumulation. Developing human and institutional competencies will require a systems-oriented approach to change. Skilled persons do not operate in a vacuum: their ability to accomplish tasks is strongly influenced by the larger environment in which they work. Individual performance is affected at the very least by opportunities for meaningful work, shared professional norms, mentoring, opportunities for joint action, incentives to expand skills and a sense of mission. Indeed, many analysts of human capacity building now argue that effective priority setting, sharing information and strengthening organizational culture have a greater influence over individual performance than additional training does. While institutions or organizations are the docking units for individual professionals, many development tasks require coordination across different types of entities. Examples include the coordination of those who set policy with those who implement it, harmonization between training agencies and organizations that need to hone the specialized skills of staff, and the synchronization in the case of service delivery or extension between the center and the field. By building skills systematically across local organizations, and among organizations in different countries, funders help facilitate an environment of inquiry, entrepreneurship and experimentation. That environment, in turn, makes individuals and organizations more effectiveand improves conditions in their countries. Like many other foundations and bilateral and multilateral funding agencies, the Rockefeller Foundation recognizes that if we are going to contribute to the building of more just and equitable societies, we need to start thinking differently about the task at hand. Success now depends on our ability to marry knowledge and execution. This means supporting new types of training configurations. It means linking training to the broader goal of building organizations and institutions that are well-managed, strategic and stable. It means strengthening organizations that are flexible and nimble enough to adapt to new technologies, changing political conditions and market opportunities. And it means connecting the dots across institutions for mutual reinforcement. Between 1995 and 2003, the Rockefeller Foundation devoted $384 million, an average of 32 percent of its grant portfolio, to capacity-building activities. Given the scale of this investment, we felt last year that the time had come to reassess our recent human and institutional capacity-building initiatives. Our definition of human and institutional capacity building was

evolving, becoming at once more fluid than in the past, and yet potentially more robust. As we looked at the external environment, we saw that in addition to understanding new global and national contexts, we needed to get a better handle on several other salient trends and questions. What fresh approaches to program development are essential to the demands of the new millennium; especially ways of quickly sharing know-how that enables nations and communities within them to benefit from the most learning gained elsewhere and adapt it to local conditions? Which are the most effective pathways to skill development, lifelong learning and connectivity across a diversity of institutional arenas that are already eclipsing standard capacity-building processes? What creative approaches are needed that expand capacity building beyond formal training and the operations of individual institutions and trigger systemic change through various professional channels? How might public-interest organizations best coordinate with one another to become problem-solving networks that reinforce one anothers strengths? We also saw a proliferation of more and different players in the capacity-building field. These included national governments, bilateral agencies, multilateral development banks, private philanthropies and new actors from the public, commercial and nonprofit sectors. In short, we wanted to find a new yardstick for assessing our work. In addition to our internal assessment, we asked a pair of researchers to analyze the external landscape. We wanted them to identify not just trends, policies and practices, but to give us a sense of what other foundations and multilateral and bilateral funding agencies were doing in this space. One paper, focused on the United States, would cover the fields of community development, workforce development and social enterprise. The other would analyze trends in international development. By examining what others were doing, we sought to better design and evaluate our own programs and to position ourselves more thoughtfully in the international funding community. We also hoped the review would uncover areas for potential partnerships with other funders. The landscape analyses were simultaneously heartening and disconcerting. On one hand, our researchers found widespread agreement among funders about the need for and importance of capacity building. Funders at both the national and international level clearly recognize the scale of the challenges at hand. They understand, too, that if we are serious about meeting the worlds challenges, solutions must be devised and executed by those most directly affected by the problems. In both the national and international arenas, funders have a growing taste for experimentation and boldness. On the other hand, capacity-building concepts, language and frameworks are fragmented and unclear. The Foundation recognizes that the fields possibilities will not be realized nor tensions resolved by study alone, but rather by risking and experimenting. To that end, the Foundation hopes to further advance the field in coming years by investing in a publication series that will feature case studies of creative solutions to challenges and productive responses to new opportunities. For now, we offer the following report, The Rockefeller Foundation: How we Invest in Capacity Building, as a prologue to what we hope will be an ongoing conversation among funders, grantees, and other interested parties on the future of human and institutional capacity building. Joyce Lewinger Moock Associate Vice President The Rockefeller Foundation

What Is Capacity and Why Do We Devote One-Third of the Portfolio to Building It?

Capacity building is a central instrument of Rockefeller Foundation grantmaking. By 2001, spending was at 33 percent of the portfolio. Because this instrument is so critical to our strategies and operations, we conducted a review of our current human and institutional capacitybuilding initiatives in 2004 to see how we were doing. Our goal was to provide learning for staff that could result in better program design and increase the usefulness and quality of program evaluation. In addition to assessing our grantmaking we examined new national, regional and global contexts that have affected the Foundations work in building professional competencies. These contexts have important consequences for program vision and architecture as they present new challenges and opportunities. A growing number of countries have set out on paths of democratization, decentralization and liberalization, which are creating more vibrant, more fluid environments in which citizens are more likely to develop new skills and to transform hidebound institutions. Less dependence on government, greater market orientation and changing employment opportunities are also leading to the revitaliza-

tion of universities worldwide and to demand for new competencies, especially in management and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the various movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America toward regional integration are presenting opportunities for economies of scale in research and training. Overlaying these trends are the momentous changes occurring globally. The seismic impact of the information-technology revolution and the unfolding knowledge society is bringing in its wake new markets in education provision, including virtual learning, click and brick hybrid teaching, establishment of worldwide partnerships of various kinds, emergence of innovation hubs, catchment centers, international communities of practice, and so forth. The massive scale of global knowledge accumulation is widening the gap between the rich and poor. Capacity building for economic growth and poverty reduction is therefore all the more urgent and requires a bold response.

This review of capacitybuilding grants refers to the development and effective application of professional competencies, as differentiated from childrens schooling or adult literacy. Capacity building in this sense is a notion that is undergoing enormous change

Figure 1

Capacity Building Nested Framework

Lifting a Field Building/Balancing Skills Systematically Within an Institution Building Skills of Individuals

ENTRY POINT Cross-Institution/Sector Wide Division of Labor Incentives and Supports to Retain Talent Institutions Use and Replenishment of Skills Individuals Skill Sets Core Competencies

involving consideration of a much broader range of influences and consequences than were included in traditional definitions. For the purposes of our review, capacity and capacity building refer to more than narrow skill transfer or training. While these are necessary, they are unlikely to be sufficient for building capacity that can be well utilized, retained and replenished. A more systemic definition of capacity building would include, in addition to technical skills transfer, improvement of inter-organizational or intraorganizational structures, and the imparting of entrepreneurial and management competencies necessary to develop vision and strategies, and to implement them. Thus, the emphasis is on doing and accomplishmentnot just on training and learning. This extended definition enables assessment of whether program design is adequate to produce the desired outcome. Figure 1 presents schematically the imbedded nature of three dimensions of capacity building. Individual capacity development relates to enhancing the professional competencies of individuals. These include skills that are content-based and contextbased, and possibly involve management, entrepreneurial and leadership development. When leaders develop such capabilities, their work may also be more likely to have an empowering effect on the

people they hope to benefit, thus advancing the cause of equal opportunity. Unfortunately, individual capacity does not translate easily into institutional capacity. How well-trained individuals actually perform is affected at the very least by opportunities for meaningful work, shared professional norms, mentoring, opportunities for joint action, incentives to expand skills and a sense of mission. Indeed, individual performance may improve more as a result of effective priority setting and strengthening the institutional culture than through supplemental training activities. And while institutions or organizations are the docking units for individual professionals, many development tasks require coordinated action among multiple, differentiated institutions. Examples include the coordination of those who set policy with those who implement it, harmonization between training institutions and organizations that need staff, and synchronization in the case of service delivery or extension between the center and the field. When a wide range of local organizations raise their skill levels systematically, they tend to draw greater attention and eventually, support from governments, universities and professional organizations, both national and international. That, in turn, can help make their newly raised skills more effective, both for them and, in the longer term, for their countries. To ascertain capacity-building trends, program characteristics and the nature of alignment of various Foundation programs, we drew on lists of grants, grant memos and interpretations by program staff. Since Rockefellers automated grant-management system was launched in 1995, and thus established the beginning of electronically available data, this became the starting date for the review.* We also made use of internal Foundation capacity-building program histories and analyses conducted in 1984, 1993 and 1997. While the review does not examine the quality and effectiveness of the Foundations programs, we provide a set of evaluative questions at the end of this note to stimulate reader discussion.

*Does not include the Warren Weaver Fellows Program, a one-year residency at the Foundations New York offices.

Where Weve Come So Far

Between 1995 and 2003, the Foundation devoted, on average, 32 percent of its grant portfolio to activities with explicit professional capacity-building objectives, and distinctive components for which dollar amounts are specified. The level of support is substantial, with capacitybuilding investments totaling $384 million since 1995.

Rockefeller Foundation Grantmaking

We organize our grantmaking around a series of programming themes and regional programs. These themes and regional programs are based on their direct relevance to our mission and on our historic competencies. Sustaining and enriching lives and livelihoods requires adequate food production (Food Security), more equitable health outcomes (Health Equity), and opportunities for work (Working Communities) and creative expression (Creativity & Culture). A crosstheme (Global Inclusion) focuses on emerging policy issues. Our regional work in Southeast Asia (Southeast Asia Regional Program), North America (North American Transnational Communities), and Eastern and Southern Africa (Africa Regional Program) aims to address issues arising from interactions between global processes and local institutions. Within each theme and regional program are focused Areas of Work, the mechanisms through which grants are made. Across different Rockefeller program divisions, the share of grants going to the development of

professional capacity appears to range as follows: 79 percent in Africa Regional Program, 35 percent in Food Security, 33 percent in Working Communities (the Foundations U.S. domestic program), 28 percent in Health Equity, and 24 percent in Creativity & Culture. The Southeast Asia Regional Program shows a three-year total of 38 percent for capacitybuilding grants; while Global Inclusions high fouryear total of 43 percent is based on the domination of a single granteeLeadership for Environment and Development (LEAD). And across the different regions in which the Foundation is active, the share of support for capacity building is highest, by far, in Africa, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2

Capacity Building Support as a Percentage of Total Grants by Region (1995-2003)

50% 46% 45% 40%
Percentage of Funding

37% 32% 26% 32%

35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0%

US/Europe Africa


LAC Multi-Developing Regions

Figure 3

Proportion of Capacity Building Investments Against Total Rockefeller Foundation Grants

40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% 1995 1996








But while capacity building is a central instrument of Foundation grantmaking, there has been a decline in the pro portion of capacity-building grants to total program spending over recent years. Figure 3 indicates that in 1997, capacity-building support against total Foundation grants peaked at 38 percent, but began thereafter a steady decline. By 2001, spending was at 33 percent and then dropped to 23 percent by 2003. Part of this decline can be explained by the phasing out of big-ticket programs such as LEAD and the International Clinical Epidemiology Network

(INCLEN), along with the lag time for new program development. However, the downward trend in capacity-building support occurs in all program divisions, with the exception of Creativity & Culture, as reflected in Figure 4. Differences in investment patterns across Foundation program divisions and by program divisions over time are undoubtedly attributable to shifts in goals and strategies. The way the Foundation chooses and formulates its program areas will determine how it strikes a balance among research, policy analysis, agenda setting or advocacy, capacity building, and other philanthropic modalities. Agenda setting, in particular, seems to be on the rise in relation to capacity building. In addition, the nature of capacity-building programs will be shaped by assumptions about the professional needs relevant to Foundation programs, the dynamics of social change and opportunities for investment. In fact, throughout the Foundations history, the ebb and flow of our goals and strategiesand of our assumptions and determinations about root problemshave periodically led to pronounced changes in our approach to capacity building. To understand the current relationship among these factors, it helps to see how that relationship has shifted over time, and the effect of those shifts on our grantmaking.

Figure 4 Division Trends in Capacity Building Support by Total Division

100% 90% 80% 70%

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1995 1996 1997 1998


2000 2001 2002 2003

Five Eras of Capacity Building and How They Evolved

Foundation documents describe a shift from a narrow, technical to a broadened, systemic approach in professional capacity building, occurring in five phases from the 1920s to the present.

centrated effort in human resource development: nearly 1,000 young researchers from 15 universities received advanced-degree fellowships as an integral part of institutional goals and structure.

Pioneering patronage of outstanding young researchers (1920s40s): Prior to concentrating major capacity-building efforts in developing countries, the Rockefeller Foundation had achieved a distinguished history in the United States and Europe as pioneering patron of individual young re-searchers in the medical and natural sciences. During the 1920s and 30s, in particular, the Foun-dation spent huge sums endowing medical and public health institutions. Linked to these efforts was the Foundations invention of postdoctoral fellowships to advance knowledge in physics, chemistry, mathematics and astronomy, as well as to pioneer newly synthesized fields like molecular biology. There evolved a pattern of modest grants for stipends, equipment and technical assistance, and the use of circuit-riding staff to scout talent. The implicit assumption was that deep investments by the industrial nations in their education structures and in budding scientific talent could solve the problems of the early 20th century and advance the public good. Transferring skills and institutional forms from the North (1950s60s): Capacity-building investments to further science and technology in developing countries had to be approached differently. Most of these societies lacked both the scientific institutions necessary for research and highly developed public or private outreach apparatus to disseminate and apply scientific knowledge. In both health and agriculture, Foundation expatriate field staff in cooperation with the host country carried out research, training and demonstration campaigns. Such operational fieldwork during the 1950s and 60s was carefully backed by grants to strengthen national institutions and by fellowships for outstanding local personnel to promote intellectual leadership and institutionalize what was achieved. Capacity building in those days was viewed as creating a self-generating cadre of scientists socialized to technocratic, Western role models in order to sustain and replicate Foundation demonstrations. In terms of absolute numbers, the University Development Program (midway renamed Education for Development) was the Foundations largest con-

Shifting from capacity building to research and analysis (1970smid 80s): By the late 1960s, optimism about what the Foundation could accomplish in the low-income countries and in poor communities in the United States was on the wane. Although the Foundations operating programs had responded well to problems perceived as single-dimensional (increasing farm yields or controlling yellow fever), they did not deal effectively with complex second generation distribution and political efficacy problems. Few had anticipated the inherent difficulties of institutional development or how vulnerable these institutions would prove in the political and economic climate of the 70s and 80s. Now the selected program tools became grants to well-established research institutes for research and policy analysis, postdoctoral research fellowships, and research competitions mostly on a regional or global basis. Field staff numbers declined steadily from 148 in 1967 to just four in 1985. In parallel, Advanced Training Fellowships (those which confer on recipients the title Rockefeller Foundation Fellow and were used to reinforce institutional advance in developing countries) fell from 212 in 1965 to 60 in 1975 to 16 in1985. Emphasizing people-centered development (mid 1980smid 90s): In 1986, stimulated by the reconception of development in quality-of-life and environmental terms, the Foundations Science-Based Development (SBD) program, with parallel approaches in Equal Opportunity (the then title of the philanthropys domestic poverty program) and the Arts & Humanities program, moved the Foundation steadily, if unevenly, back toward engagement with contextual issues and field learning. This was the period of heavy concentration on building funding intermediaries, especially where local organizational infrastructure did not suffice, so as to retail grants to smaller-scale beneficiaries. In 1993, the newer paradigmssustainable development, energy efficiency, womens advancement, pluralism, community empowerment, to name but a fewled to a core strategies approach intended to make SBD more coherent by focusing on specific targets reachable, in theory, over a 10-to-15 year period.


Applying a problematique approach to capacity building (1998present): The latest iteration of program transformation is having a strong influence on capacity-building activities in three ways. First is the introduction of exclusion of poor and disadvantaged populations as a shared element of program orientation. The term refers to a whole array of deficiencies that result from the ravages of social, economic and cultural marginalization. The responding emphases on building assets that are both equitable and sustainable are reflected in the objectives of capacity- building programs. Second, the problematique framework has strategically repositioned the Foundation toward a systems approach to program design with an emphasis on impact. Capacity building in this context moves from a supply-driven approach to one that is demand-based; from a focus on training and study to concentration on application and accomplishment. The problem-oriented approach also supports more purposive targeting of capacity-building investments. Third, the tight grouping of grantmaking clusters under Areas of Work, now the engine to move programs forward, is highly focused and often time sensitivefactors that influence investment and evaluation time frame, and the breadth and depth of skill building.
Figure 5

Recent Program Restructuring

Shifting From Individuals to Organizations and Fields
Of the 38 major capacity-building programs active in either 1995 or 1996, only seven continue to receive Foundation support. Most of these have undergone change but are recognizably intact. A few others have become springboards for new initiatives to carry out similar work. The Foundations work on rice, in particular, has been sufficiently flexible to set the stage for new world-class skills in science linked to strategic programming and capacity building in developing countries, particularly in Africa. Such programming exploits the traditional programmatic strengths of the Foundation in the science and technology arena, i.e., an area in which the Rockefeller Foundation has substantial residual capital from its 15-year investment in rice biotechnology. The majority of the Foundations 1995 and 1996 capacity-building programs, however, have been phased out to make way for activities more in keeping with new Areas of Work. Figure 5 indicates that the process of program termination and rebuilding has been accompanied by a shift from fellowship programs to designs that combine

Program Modalities by Total Capacity Building Grants

Human Capacity
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

Institution Building



human and institutional capacity building, and to a strong emphasis on institutional network initiatives. The systemic nature of problem-oriented framing and a tightening of Areas of Work mandate these shifts. However, actual entry points for capacity building differ markedly across Foundation program divisions. For example, Working Communities concentrates its capacity-building initiatives around individual organizations. These may, in a few instances, be linked in networks under large-scale umbrella programs such as Living Cities, a partnership committed to the revitalization of Americas urban centers, but the context for all human capacity development in the fields of community building, workforce development and social enterprise is organization strengthening, along with program and service delivery models. In contrast, Food Security confronts a compelling need for both institutional and network interventions. Its environment includes strong international research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, weak national research programs, and relatively dense cross-national research networks. Food Security capacity-building activities occur both within these structures as part of institution building and under separate training programs, like the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa or the African Center for Crop Improvement, which then direct graduates back to the organizations with which Food Security is working. The Foundations Health Equity program has recently phased out several large human capital programs that are not viewed as central to program restructuring and, with the exception of cross-border programs in the Greater Mekong Region, has shifted its attention to capacity building, at least for the moment, under an agenda-setting, policy frameworkthe Joint Learning Initiative for Human Resources for Health and Development. The Africa Regional Program, meanwhile, focuses on strengthening the basic health of higher education institutions as a platform for the specific work of the sector programs.

few, if any, such individual capacity- building programs were tightly aligned with the Foundations new strategies, they provided an im-portant vehicle for scanning new voices and ideas. Whether a talent-scout function can be folded into the Foundations desire to develop an internal searchlight capacity that can anticipate future trends and identify the next big thing remains to be seen.

The Interaction of Institutions and Networks

Of the 46 current professional capacity-building initiatives, 39 (or 85 percent) operate within an institution/organization-building context; that is, they specifically match individual training and career tracking with institutional backup and development. Institutionally linked skill development is either built directly into the target institutional grant or sometimes, as in the African Center for Crop Improvement or the Regional Training Institute on HIV/AIDS in the Greater Mekong Region, run through a central training institution with links to beneficiary institutions. To sustain momentum of human and institutional capacity-building programs, funders need to see to it that their grantees have access to the whole range of critical elements including skill training, mentoring and experience building, career tracking, and networking among other things. If a funder supports only cer tain elements, it becomes all the more important to coordinate with other funders supporting other elements. Of the 39 integrated human and institutional capacity-building programs, 20 (or 51 percent) operate as cross-institutional networks. Such networks can be within a national, regional or cross-regional context. Currently the Foundation supports five nationally based networks, of which three are in the United States and two in Africa, and 15 crossnational, regional networks. These networks link institutions in systematic processes of communication, mutual learning and joint decision making and serve to attract basket or wholesale funding. A few Rockefeller Foundation-sponsored networks have been created simply to reinforce already strong institutional research or service delivery structures and extend their impact; the Humanities Resident Fellowship Program, parts of LEAD and the Asia Rice Biotechnology Network are examples. But the majority, including all of those in Africa, have evolved as compensatory mechanisms for fragile national institutions and are designed to develop

A Decline in Talent Scouting

The elimination of almost all the Foundations fellowship initiatives, including Advanced Training Fellowships and the African Dissertation Internship Awards (ADIA), ironically comes at a time when the Foundation is increasing its attention to societies in which professional capacity building is relatively fragile and to issues of equity of access. Although


depth and critical mass within strategic program areas that would otherwise be extremely difficult and costly to achieve on a country-by-country basis. Their adapt-ability to the local environment is especially important if these networks, despite offering numerous professional advantages and political safety nets, are not to undermine the strengthening of national institutions. Networks within or across lowincome countries are likely to increase due to their many learning advantages and because as part of civil society they are not directly affected by the fortunes of public institutions. Yet, initiatives that remain financially dependent on external funds and lack local accountability can seriously undercut potential for sustainability.

Figure 6

Changing Capacity-Building Program Characteristics Phased Out Programs 19861999

Sole focus on developing scientific/research proficiency Unidisciplinarity Northern university-based B.A. and M.A. degree training Northern laboratory linkage Heavy emphasis on technical assistance Stand-alone fellowships Foundation-created program intermediaries and secretariats Foundation as sole or major funder Management from the foundations headquarters
New Programs 20002004

Investing in the South

In a similar vein, the Foundations portfolio of capacity-building initiatives in developing countries has moved away from dependence on advanced degree training in the North and the provision of technical assistance. In 1995, of 27 developing-country initiatives, 59 percent involved industrial country training or substantial technical assistance. In 2003, of 37 developing country programs, only 21 percent relied on direct inputs from the North. Over the past few years, several trends have enabled the international funding community to turn its attention to strengthening local institutions, rather than utilizing institutions in the North as intermediaries. These include the revitalization of universities in the South, the communication technology revolution and its attendant global forces, a loosening of government control over public institutions, and new channels for regional material and information flows.

High integration with Foundation Areas of Work strategies Problem solving/practitioner orientation M.A. as key entry-point; Ph.D. as necessary Analytic training mixed with experiential learning Combining global knowledge with local realties Emphasis on skill application/retention/replenishment Integrated human and organizational capacity building Multinational networks Multiparty funding consortia Management balanced between Foundation headquarters and its field offices
Possible Future Directions

Looking Ahead
But even with these changes, current approaches to capacity building, while still valid, are unlikely to be sufficient to achieve the goals of quality, relevance, expansiveness, sustainability, scalability and impact in the new millennium. Fresh approaches to program development are essential; particularly the quick sharing of know-how that enables nations and communities within them to benefit from learning gained elsewhere and adapt it to local conditions. The rapid advances that are occurring in information technology will contribute. Innovative pathways to skill development, lifelong learning and connectivity across a diversity of institutional arenas are already

Holistic orientation to professional learning and career development Emphasis on management and enterprise (business plan) skill development Specialized, practice-based, organizationally rooted, entrepreneurially oriented leadership Flagship programs with all local/southern ownership Brick and click (virtual) interactive learning International communities of practicenetworking among practitioners Public/private sector Innovation Hubs for the creation of Technology Managers Catchment zones for configuring Ph.D. training across multiple low-income countries Double bottom line curriculum for business-skill training Integrated evaluative yardsticks that measure social outcomes Focus on sustainability and scalability of professional communities Program management as close to program locus as possible.


eclipsing standard capacity-building processes. Further, conventional views of supply-side training, overseas Ph.D. programs, classroom-based learning, unidisciplinary orientation, prolonged technical assistance, institutional isolation and heavy reliance on public sector funding are inadequate to span the divide between the explosion of knowledge and its meaningful application. Creative approaches are needed that expand capacity building beyond formal training and the operations of individual institutions and trigger systemic change through various professional channels. These notions include the linkage of human resource production to a comprehensive perspective on enabling work conditions that take into consideration demand, institutional transformation, professional motivation and incentives, career development, and the realities of labor mobility. The idea, then, is to leapfrog traditional practice and capture new modes for new times. Figure 6 suggests the evolving characteristics of the Foundations capacity-building portfolio over the past 18 years and possible future directions. Program characteristics include purpose of ca-pacity development, breadth of skill sets, disciplinary/sector orientation, level of training, pedagogi-cal approaches, creation of intermediaries/secretariats, establishment of funding partnerships, and source of internal Foundation management. Some of the characteristics suggested under future directionsvirtual learning, programs with local ownership, communities of practice, change in evaluative yardsticks and field managementare extensions of efforts already under way. Other characteristics reflect sharpened thinking and bold innovation, arising from national and global learning. These include emphasis on new management and entrepreneurial skill sets, public/private sector innovation hubs for technology managers, systems orientation to human-capacity development, double bottom-line business-skill curriculum, and catchment zones for Ph.D. training across low-income countries. Although the program review ventured some generalizations about the contours of capacity-building programs, it stopped short of assessing program performancea task best left for impartial external examination. However, it is fair to note that the Foundations work in capacity building has long been associated with careful selection of trainees and organizations, hand-tailored design, quality assurance meas-

ures, close monitoring and long-term funding commitment. Many reviews of the Foundations work in developing countries, especially in Africa, conclude that the Rockefeller Foundation has generally avoided the major shortcomings in donor performance that plague ca-pacity-building investments. Here are a few common shortcomings characterized by the World Banks Operations Evaluation Department: Taking too narrow a view of capacity needs and focusing largely on enhancing only the technical, content-based competence of particular organizations or individuals; Ignoring contextual nuance and potential sustainability factors; Exercising too much control over the design and implementation of assistance efforts; Not integrating capacity-building activities throughout all phases of thematic work and taking adequate account of existing institutional and human capacities; Continuing to use external technical assistance despite evidence of its ineffectiveness; Neglecting higher education as an integral component of a country-level capacity-building strategy; Funding projects with life spans too short to deal with the long-term nature of capacity building; and Lacking adequate funding agency skills in specialized areas related to governance, institutional reform, pedagogy and adequate incentives for effective capacity-building work.

Finding Coherence and Alignment

Vertical Integration: Linking Global and Local Innovation
The Foundation uses capacity-building initiatives as program instruments to advance specific or-ganizational and program goals. As these change over time, capacity-building investments will change with them. Over the last few years, the Foundation has concerned itself with achieving greater focus within its program portfolio and attaining coherence both within and across Areas of Work. Are there special opportunities that capacity-building investments can offer within this evolving context? Intrinsic to the nature of capacity building is the development of new skill sets to address complex problems that are often cross-sectoral or at the margins of standard disciplines. Networks, in particular, function to inte-


grate diverse disciplines and broker linkages across spe-cialized institutions. There are two types of organizational/strategic axes along which overall program strategies, and the capacity-building initiatives within them, might be linked and reinforced. One axis is vertical; the other is horizontal. Within a vertical frame, capacity development within global institutions is linked to strategic programming and capacity building at national or community levels. The Foundations biotechnology work, for example, offers institutional innovations that will allow access by developing countries, particularly in Africa, to biotechnological public goodsthat is, intellectual property rights, technol-ogy transfer, and biosafety. These investments are, by intent, aligned with crop variety invest-ments that provide the skills at national level for applied molecular biology research, trait introgres-sion into breeding programs and seed systems. The Foundations health program investments in developing new vaccines and drugs also present high potential for building work along a vertical axis that aligns upstream scientific research and product development with fieldwork in Africa and Southeast Asia that can ensure distribution through strengthening the capacity of national health systems to function on an equitable and effective basis. Vertical programming offers opportunities to broad-en the geographic scope of local capacity-building efforts, to access knowledge and learning technology worldwide, and to maximize the potential of public goods investment.

Horizontal Integration: Linking Sectors, Regions, Themes

Several efforts are already under way within the Foundation to organize programming on a horizontal axis which aligns capacity-building activities across

sectors and program divisions. The Food Security division is currently testing the potential of folding together in Western Kenya three Areas of Work (crops, soils and markets) with previously very distinct objectives, operating modali-ties, geographic foci, communities of grantees, and weights in the balance between research and capacity building. The Foundations development program in Uganda also explores the potential impact of brokering and building upon capacity-development efforts across several of the Founda-tions Areas of Work by adopting two unifying or overarching themes: higher education and Ugandas need for new skills as it decentralizes parts of its national government. Rockefellers initiatives in the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia and the transnational communities spanning the United States and Mexico offer examples of capacity-building efforts that interlink various divisions in the Foundation and bridge investments across national boundaries. While incorporating human and institutional capacity building within work areas can easily lead to fragmentation of these programs and disengagement from the larger effort to revitalize university development in Africa or build economies of scale in the Greater Mekong Region, recent evidence suggests the possibility of a reverse trend. Where work areas are moving closer together, the stage is set for capacitybuilding efforts to follow suit. This does not mean that the individual train-ing programs of Food Security in Africa, for example, will be or should be collapsed into one basket. It does suggest, however, less training in the North, more linkage among training programs in the region and, importantly, the combining of various program instruments that have reinforcement potential to magnify impact.


Questions for Discussion

his review has indicated trends in the Foundations capacity-building investments. In doing so, it raises evaluative questions with which the officers and trustees of the organization will need to grapple in future. Here are several:

First Order Questions: Has the Foundation focused its modest resources tightly on a few highly neglected domestic and international areas of profound importance in which it hopes to bring about systemic change? Does this philanthropic organization, with its special history, constituency and style of operation, bring to the table a comparative advantage for work on these issues? Who else is doing what that will affect whether its efforts make a difference? Does program development reach beyond the premises of a given strategy to ask about the positioning of the Foundation and its ability to operate easily across sectors, disciplines and global/regional divides that tend to com-partmentalize other funding agencies? Social Change Premise Questions: Every major Foundation program rests on a hypothesis about what this activity will contribute to the lives and livelihoods of the poor and excluded. What has to be changed or will be changed, or should not be changed if a given strategy is to work, and if it does work? Within this frame, how does the Foundation determine that inadequate capacity is a key constraint to the accomplishment of program goals? Are capacity-building needs adequately taken into account in the evaluation of all Foundation programs? Does program design contain sufficient measures to ensure that skill development translates into skill application and retention? Do the component parts of capacity-building programs or their linkage with other areas of work cover a sufficient range of institutions to have reinforcement potential to produce a powerful aggre-gate impact?


Program Implementation Questions: Does the design of capacity-building efforts adequately take into account new national and global contexts that change skill demand and learning modalities, and potentially open new pathways toward sustainability? What type of safety-net measures might be employed to guard against new trends in education provision (particularly privatization and commercialization) that may involve serious risks? Are capacity-building objectives being pursued using the least resources necessary? How best to build in mechanisms for scaling up promising capacity-development efforts? Are Foundation capacity-building initiatives well calibrated with those of other funders to avoid gaps, reduce overlaps and build on areas of comparative advantage? How, when and under what circumstances should the Foundation enter into part-nerships that provide grantees with a diversified funding base that protects from donor restlessness? Program Learning Questions: Is the Foundation adequately equipping itself to take advantage of effectiveness and scale when opportunities arise? In a world filled with entrepreneurs, is it ade-quately learning how to develop new, lean, flexible, low-cost models for engaging new talent? Is it sufficiently tapping into the explosion of new learning modalities, virtual technologies and world markets in education provision? In looking ahead, how should the Foundation ensure space for a self-standing program vehicle devoted to identifying and supporting fresh talent that can bring in new ideas and perspectives? The new emphasis on the poor and excluded places the Foundations work dead center in highly complex systems with multiple and reinforcing intervention points. It is no longer enough to produce human and institutional capacity as ends in themselves. The recurrent yardstick for success is the degree to which our investments help societies in the long and medium term tilt benefits toward their most vulnerable citizens. Results of this type require a systems approach, such as the one the Foundation is now developing, that is, selective, strategic, sequenced, synergistic, leverage-oriented and flexible in adjusting interacting program pieces, and linked with actors who can move where it cannot.