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Abstract

This paper argues that two related concepts, process consultation and, in particular, the clinical perspective, developed by the organisational psychologist Edgar Schein, can improve the understanding, teaching and conduct of development practice. Process consultation - which is more than just the application of so called process approaches - and the clinical perspective are described, and the case for them is put, in relation to contrasts with ethnography and action research and in the light of contemporary debates about development studies and practice. Five particular aspects of the clinical model - the primacy of the "helpful intervention", the subservience of science to helping, its client centredness, it recognition of interventionists' financial and political status, and its overt normativeness are seen as particularly relevant to development practice. In conclusion, the clinical model is seen to pose four challenges for development studies - the creation of development's own theory of practice, the establishment of rigorous practitioner training programmes, the consequent institutional change, and an acknowledgement of the implications of development studies' disciplinary biases.

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