Thomas Grammig

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Latent Processes

Professional socialisation, organizational habits and national identities are three separate levels on which communication and knowledge exchanges play out.  On each level, these processes are latent because the individuals inadvertently enact them in their work.  They often become influential and strong for a period but changes in tasks or external events alter their dynamic.  The following introduction gives an overview of the topics and objects at each level, and relates these to types of inquiry and the literature.

Introduction to
Idiosyncrasy, isomorphism, stakeholder relations, and feasible tools


Latent processes account for internal conditions: Latent processes account for external conditions:
  • mid-range constructs
  • capable of enhancing experts´ influence on their co-operation
  • the importance of tacit knowledge differences between experts
  • overcome the limits of project planning
  • define experts´ exchanges of knowledge outside of the aid legacy
  • or all types of technical assistance
  • potentially specific for economic sectors and regions
  • increasing institutional development operationality
  • clarify participation in implementation
  • expand ownership concept
  • overcome hit-or-miss project management mode

Short and concise definitions of the latent processes, their origin and appearance, are difficult.  I have used the following ones to generate questions to participants and these have been effective to discuss among participants, leading to new relations among them.  The definitions are too imprecise to create written accounts that would be useful independent of particular participants.

               Latent content process

Origin:           experts´ tacit knowledge is specific to their professional context, economic sector, firm, organizational culture

Appears:       in their exchanges, these differences in tacit knowledge appear as different socio-cultural ends of technology

                         project specific, omnipresent but escapes management

               Latent exchange process

Origin:           macro-political, social history

Appears:      modifications of knowledge and artefacts

                        sector specific, only attainable via the choice of firms and administrations

               Latent interface process

Origin:             stabilized misunderstandings

Appears:         folk theories about the other group, shifts in rhetoric

Parameters of expert collaboration in an industrial context often allow diverse arrangements and they affect each latent process with varying force.  Parameters and their diverse arrangements are easy to generalize and you might have tested opposing arrangements and found it difficult to understand why they had so much influence or none at all. 


A workshop is an effective format for discerning the dynamics of a project and for elaborating a project redesign with project participants.  The first is impossible without the participants´ active engagement in a workshop, for the second participants´ engagement is not sine qua non but it raises the effectiveness of the redesign.  For a typical technical assistance project with 5 to 30 participants and a three year horizon, two days is often sufficient.  The crucial element for the time requirement is the participants´ engagement.  This sequence of the workshop tasks for the participants is often effective:

2 - day schedule: Presentations, Tasks, Results

The first presentation introduces the scope of the workshop, knowledge components, latent process and related project parameters.  It sets the paths on which participants rediscover their differences.

Introductory presentation

Possible orientations for technology co-operation projects and the feasible objectives, relevant contexts and potential results are defined here explicitely, something I avoid during a workshop because this reduces the interpretation efforts by participants:

General workshop description

The exchange process frequently appears in the relations between local and global stakeholders.  Salient case studies are cited to differentiate endo- and exo-sociality.

Exchange process definition

The handout for the exchange process introduces a debate about globalization in India, suitable for projects with high levels of confrontation.  For workshops in lesser conflictive environments others are more suitable.

Workshop Handout Exchange Process

Handout Friedman

Handout Appadurai

Andrews M, Pritchett L and Woolcock M, 2012, Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven
           Interative Adaptation
, Harvard Kennedy School - Faculty Research Working Paper Series, RWP
          12-036, Cambridge Mass.
Friedman K. and J. 2008, Modernities, class, and the contradictions of globalization: the anthropology of
          global systems
, Lanham Md.

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