Sustainability of the project concerning “Life Planning Skills” among young people in Uganda

Start date: 31 May, 2013 End date: 30 June, 2013 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A22537 Countries: Uganda Institutions: Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark Grant recipient: Jo Ran Billetoft and Anne Sofie Würtz Jensen Total grant: 18,000 DKK


This dissertation investigates and discusses the effect of Danish volunteers on the project of “Life Planning Skills” (LPS), which is implemented in collaboration between the Danish Red Cross Youth (URK) and the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS). LPS targets four branches of the URCS in East Uganda. Research on learning and development of skills within NGO’ is limited; and thus the aim of this dissertation is to inspire and increase knowledge within the area. Specifically, this dissertation focuses on how Danish volunteers influence the development of competencies of the Ugandan volunteers and the creation of organisational learning. Furthermore, this dissertation examines how the departure of the Danish volunteers after four months in Uganda, affects the local branches of the URCS.

Empirical data is primarily collected during a one month field study in Uganda. The main source of information is observations and qualitative interviews. The theoretical framework is derived from Etienne Wenger’s theory on communities of practice with focus on practice, meaning and community, Knud Illeris’ reflections on the individual learning process with focus on motivation and identity, and Poul Dahl et al.’s analysis of the handling of organisational learning by learning zones and how to obtain, organise, and use knowledge.  

The key finding is that Danish volunteers are actually instrumental in helping the Ugandan volunteers give meaning to the project and maintaining the community of practice within the LPS project. The Ugandan volunteers are motivated by future career options and develop individual skills due to the presence of Danish volunteers. Several of the existing learning zones within the LPS project are significantly influenced by the Danish volunteers. A critical finding is that the URCS is incapable of organizing and using the knowledge and competencies brought by the Danish volunteers within the organisation.

This dissertation concludes that the Danish volunteers are important catalysts for the development of competencies of the Ugandan volunteers. Furthermore, the Danish volunteers are essential in maintaining the LPS activities through creation of structures and systems, which makes them critical in terms of organisational learning. The fact that the URCS is organisationally weak and lacks the capacity to take advantage of organisational learning and existing knowledge means that the Danish volunteers’ departure has a negative impact on the URCS.