International Development Planning Review

Dentists, politicians and policy professionals: the prescriptive character of best practice ‘knowledge products’ for slum upgrading

International Development Planning Review (2013), 35, (4), 353–370.

Abstract

This article is based on the view that policy professionals are considerably influenced by Web-based searches and social media communications that lead to the identification of best practice policy documents. I demonstrate that there is a prescriptive quality to such documents when they are ‘certified’ by the World Bank, MIT and one's professional associations, and when this occurs in the context of, it is argued, a decline in critical thinking. The article answers questions I encounter when expressing these views: ‘What's new about best practice?’ and ‘Why anticipate a decline in critical thinking?’ when policy professionals consider best practice documents. The article continues with inquiries into ‘Knowledge and the can and should of best practice’ and ‘Whose knowledge?’ However, since the interpretation of my views is so clouded by the perception of bias, I start by explaining the focus on, rather than the bias against, the World Bank and associated organisations. The case study is slum upgrading and related knowledge products for policy professionals in the Global South.

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BRUNS, A. (2007), ‘Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age, ICE3 conference, Loch Lomond, Scotland http://snurb.info/node/721 Google Scholar

BUCKLEY, R. M. and KALARICKAL, J. (2006), Thirty Years of World Bank Shelter Lending: What Have We Learned?, Washington, DC, World Bank. Thirty Years of World Bank Shelter Lending: What Have We Learned? Google Scholar

CARR, N. (2010), The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember, London, Atlantic Books. The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember Google Scholar

CASTELLS, M. (2009), Communication Power, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Communication Power Google Scholar

ERICKSON, T. J. and GRATTON, L. (2007), ‘Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams’, Harvard Business Review http://hbr.org/2007/11/eight-ways-to-build-collaborative-teams/ar/1 Google Scholar

FORESTER, J. (1999), The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes Google Scholar

GILBERT, A. (2007), ‘The return of the slum: does language matter?’, International Journal of Urban & Regional Research, 31, 697-713. ‘The return of the slum: does language matter?’ International Journal of Urban & Regional Research 31 697 713 Google Scholar

GILES, J. (2005), ‘Special Report Internet encyclopaedias go head to head’, Nature, 438, 900-1 (15 December). ‘Special Report Internet encyclopaedias go head to head’ Nature 438 900 1 Google Scholar

GREENFIELD, S. (2102), ‘Attention, Please’ Literary Review, August http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/greenfield_09_10.html Google Scholar

GREENFIELD, S. (2011), ‘Are we all doomed?’, New Statesman, 9 June, p. 25, http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2011/06/climate-change-doomed-brain?quicktabs_most_read=0 (accessed 26 March 2011). http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2011/06/climate-change-doomed-brain?quicktabs_most_read=0 ‘Are we all doomed?’ New Statesman 25 Google Scholar

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 Google Scholar

HOWARD, E. (1965), Garden Cities of To-Morrow, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. Garden Cities of To-Morrow Google Scholar

INTRONA, L. D. and NISSENBAUM, H. (2000), ‘Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters’, Information Society, 16, 169-85. ‘Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters’ Information Society 16 169 85 Google Scholar

JERICHO, G. (2012), The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social Media and Blogging in Australia, Melbourne, Scribe. The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social Media and Blogging in Australia Google Scholar

JUDD, T. and KENNEDY, G. (2011), ‘Expediency-based practice? Medical students' reliance on Google and Wikipedia for biomedical inquiries’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 42,351-60. ‘Expediency-based practice? Medical students' reliance on Google and Wikipedia for biomedical inquiries’ British Journal of Educational Technology 42 351 60 Google Scholar

KEYNES, J. M. (1936), The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, New York, Macmillan Cambridge University Press. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Google Scholar

LAZAROW, M. (2007), ‘The evidence-based model of information literacy research: a critique’, in S. Liu, K. Williamson and A. Lloyd (eds), Exploring methods in information literacy research, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, 171-83. Exploring methods in information literacy research 171 83 Google Scholar

LEVY, S. (2011), In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, New York, Simon and Schuster. In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives Google Scholar

MAJOR CITIES UNIT (2010), State of Australian Cities 2010, Infrastructure Australia, Australian Government http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/files/MCU_SOAC.pdf Google Scholar

MOSER, C., NORTON, A., STEIN, A. and GEORGIEVA, S. (2010), Pro-Poor Adaptation to Climate Change in Urban Centers: Case Studies of Vulnerability and Resilience in Kenya and Nicaragua, Report No. 54947-GLB, Sustainable Development Network, Washington, DC, World Bank. Google Scholar

NATTRASS, N. (2008), ‘Estimating the lost benefits of Antiretroviral drug use in South Africa’, African Affairs, 107, 157-76. ‘Estimating the lost benefits of Antiretroviral drug use in South Africa’ African Affairs 107 157 76 Google Scholar

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RODWIN, M. A. (2001), ‘The politics of evidence-based medicine’, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 26, 439-46. ‘The politics of evidence-based medicine’ Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 26 439 46 Google Scholar

SCHON, D. (1983), The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action, London, Temple Smith. The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action Google Scholar

SOLESBURY, W. (2002), ‘The ascendancy of evidence’, Planning Theory & Practice, 3, 90-96. ‘The ascendancy of evidence’ Planning Theory & Practice 3 90 96 Google Scholar

TOMLINSON, R. (2002), ‘International best practice, enabling frameworks and the policy process: a South African case study’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 26, 2,377-388. ‘International best practice, enabling frameworks and the policy process: a South African case study’ International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26 377 388 Google Scholar

TOMLINSON, R. (2008), ‘Prevention of HIV/AIDS-associated opportunistic infections through housing and municipal services’, Open House International, 33, 43-52. ‘Prevention of HIV/AIDS-associated opportunistic infections through housing and municipal services’ Open House International 33 43 52 Google Scholar

TOMLINSON, R. (2012), ‘Does Shanghai have slums?’, International Development Planning Review, 34, v-xvi. v-xvi. ‘Does Shanghai have slums?’ International Development Planning Review 34 v xvi Google Scholar

UNDP (UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME) (2011), Trade and human development: A practical guide to mainstreaming trade, Trade and Human Development Unit, Geneva http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/Poverty%20Reduction/Trade,%20Intellectual%20Property%20and%20Migration/TradeAndHD%28Mainstreaming%20trade%29web%20ver.pdf Google Scholar

UN-HABITAT (2003), Slums of the World: The Face of Urban Poverty in the New Millennium? Nairobi http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=1124 Google Scholar

UN-HABITAT (2007), ‘Slum Dwellers to Double by 2030: Millennium Development Goal Could Fall Short’ http://www.unhabitat.org/downloads/docs/4631_46759_GC%2021%20Slum%20dwellers%20to%20double.pdf Google Scholar

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Tomlinson, Richard