Lessons in Failure: Applying an Organizational Learning Framework to Understanding Attitudes Towards Failure in Development

September 2021

This paper applies an organizational learning framework to explore attitudes towards failure in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) development sector. It draws on 35 key-informant interviews, contextualized by organizational theory and existing scholarship on failure in development, to understand the challenges faced by WASH practitioners in identifying failure, analyzing failure, and deliberate experimentation.

Through interrogating past and present initiatives for publicizing failure in development, this paper digs deeper into the successes, obstacles, and lessons learnt from mainstreaming failure into organizational practices. It then synthesizes these findings to advance a 3-tier conceptual map for organizations to build an enabling environment for learning from failure in development.

Additional details

PublisherEnvironmental Health Insights
ThemesGovernment leadership, Leave no one behind, Monitoring, evaluation and learning, Sustainability and safely managed sanitation
ApproachesLearning from failure

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