Shared Glossary to Build Understanding of Concepts

in Capacity Development and its Results


We created this wiki so development practitioners and local partners

can build a shared glossary to improve the understanding and

practice of capacity development learning programs and results management.


This wiki is a dynamic resource that allows the development community to consolidate varying definitions for terms and concepts in capacity development. By finding commonalities in our thinking in these areas, we can further knowledge exchange and expand collaborative practice toward consensus-building in capacity development.


We encourage you to contribute your understanding of the listed terms, add new terms and definitions to the existing list, and/or add terms or concepts that you would like to be defined or discussed in this wiki. Kindly edit the tables only by visiting the links below.


1. Capacity Development:  Capacity development dominates international aid with more than $20 billion a year devoted to a range of activities, yet capacity development efforts have fallen short of expectations. One of the main challenges is the lack of clarity around the concept. What do we mean by capacity development and related terms?

Key terms: capacity, capacity development, capacity factors, agents of change


2. Knowledge and Learning Programs:  Development learning is expanding beyond traditional offerings that target individual change to dynamic programs that target the diverse learning needs of groups and organizations. How do we now define learning and its methods in driving development impact?

Key terms: development learning, development learning activities, learning outcomes


3. Capacity Development Results Management:  Progress toward development goals is moving beyond reporting the outcomes of specific development learning activities (ex. number of people changed) to measuring how learning outcomes and capacity constraints are changed through a program. Innovative results-based management approaches need to be considered (such as for assessing hard and soft characteristics) for measuring institutional-level impact and group, network, community, or organizational learning outcomes as part of an aggregate capacity development process. What is meant by a results focus and new participatory results practices for capacity development?

Key terms: capacity indicators, results framework, results chain, intermediate outcomes


4. Capacity Development Institutions:  Development institutions that deliver learning programs are evolving from providers of one-off trainings into global facilitators that help to shape the development agenda. How do we define these institutions operating at the global, national, and regional level and their roles in transforming the development landscape?   

Key terms: capacity development institutions, centers of excellence, learning hubs


5. Investments in Capacity:  These terms may relate to investments in capacity development efforts or the building of capacity. For example, human and financial capital, technological resources, natural resources, and other endowments are possible resource investments or inputs into capacity development. What is meant in today's climate by investments in capacity?

Key terms: resource inputs


For more information about this wiki or additional assistance, email