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Differences In Learning Practices And Values In North–South City Partnerships: Towards A Broader Understanding Of Mutuality


  • Marike C. Bontenbal


SUMMARY This article addresses twinning between local governments in North and South, contributing to the past decade's discourse on institutional twinning in this journal. Local governments have increasingly become recognised as relevant actors in international development cooperation through city‐to‐city cooperation structures, which have been praised as an effective mechanism for local government capacity building. This article discusses the learning practices and the extent to which new knowledge is valued and adopted by twinning participants in both North and South and moreover whether learning benefits are mutual. In a study of three partnerships between Dutch municipalities and partner cities in Peru, South Africa and Nicaragua, 36 participants were interviewed. The findings reveal that learning in city‐to‐city partnerships is not mutual between North and South and that the benefits of ‘shared learning’—a rhetoric commonly used in the twinning discourse—are limited. Instead, other opportunities for mutuality arise for Northern municipalities from political and strategic benefits, such as staff loyalty and motivation. Mutuality in twinning hence deserves a broader interpretation than learning alone so that twinning benefits can be identified and maximised for both North and South, keeping cities interested and motivated. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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  • Marike C. Bontenbal, 2013. "Differences In Learning Practices And Values In North–South City Partnerships: Towards A Broader Understanding Of Mutuality," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 85-100, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:padxxx:v:33:y:2013:i:2:p:85-100

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