Task Force on Institutional and Organisational Development

Task Force on Institutional and Organisational Development

The FIG Task Force on Institutional and Organisational Development was set up in late 2006 to focus FIG’s efforts in the vital area of building sustainable institutions, and its Terms of Reference were approved by the 2007 General Assembly. Task Force has completed its work at the FIG Congress 2010 in Sydney, Australia in April 2010 by publishing its results in FIG publication No. 47: Institutional and Organisational Development - A Guide for Managers. FIG Guide, 2010.


FIG PUBLICATION NO. 47 - Institutional and Organisational Development

 - A Guide for Managers

The Publication provides a range of material to support managers in assessing and developing capacity, including a number of examples. Here you can read about the context for the Task Force’s work and results.

This publication as a .pdf-file (34 pages - 752 KB)



(a) Capacity, Capacity Building and Sustainable Organisations

UNDP (1998) offers this basic definition of capacity: “Capacity can be defined as the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably.” UNDP (1997) has also provided the following definition of capacity development: “the process by which individuals, organisations, institutions and societies develop abilities (individually and collectively) to perform functions, solve problems and set and achieve objectives.”

Capacity building consists of the key components of capacity assessment and capacity development. Sufficient capacity needs to exist at three levels: a societal (systemic) level; an organisational level; and an individual level, with all three needing to be in place for capacity to have been developed.

So what is a sustainable organisation? From these definitions, it is one which:

  • Performs its functions effectively and efficiently;
  • Has the capability to meet the demands placed on it; and
  • Continuously builds its capacity and capability so that it can respond to future challenges.

Such an organisation needs to assess its capacity honestly and objectively, and to give focused attention to capacity development. The emphasis on sustainability is vital: unless capacity is sustainable, an organisation cannot respond effectively to the ongoing demands placed on it.

(b) Institutional and Organisational Development

For the purposes of the work of the Task Force, institutional development relates to the enhancement of the capacity of national surveying, mapping, land registration and spatial information agencies and private organisations to perform their key functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably. This requires clear, stable remits for the organisations being provided by government and other stakeholders; these remits being enshrined in appropriate legislation or regulation; and appropriate mechanisms for dealing with shortcomings in fulfilling the remits (due to individual or organisational failure). Putting these elements in place requires agreement between a wide range of stakeholders, in both the public and private sectors, and is a non-trivial task.

Organisational development, in contrast, relates to the enhancement of organisational structures and responsibilities, and the interaction with other entities, stakeholders, and clients, to meet the agreed remits. This requires adequate, suitable resourcing (in staffing and cash terms); a clear and appropriate organisational focus (to meet the agreed remit of the organisation); and suitable mechanisms to turn the focus into delivery in practice (these mechanisms including organisational structures, definition of individual roles, and instructions for completing the various activities).

One useful and succinct model for putting in place suitable measures to enable and underpin organisational success is that developed by the UK Public Services Productivity Panel (HMT, 2000). This recognises five key elements which need to be in place:


The Task Force developed a model for assessing capacity, by considering six different tasks, each at the systemic, the organisational and the individual level:

  • The development of appropriate land administration policy and legislation;
  • The conversion of those policies and legislation into strategies, systems and programmes;
  • Agreeing the split of activity between different stakeholders;
  • The production of the necessary outputs (for instance, accurate and current surveys, land registers and valuation lists);
  • The effective use of those outputs; and
  • Ensuring effective learning and improvement.

The Task Force then created an assessment template, providing four statements for each of 18 areas (each of the six elements above, at each of the three levels). Respondents were asked to rank the statements 1-4 in terms of how well the statements reflect the situation in their country/ state, or to mark the statement in each group of 4 which most closely resembled the situation in their country/ region.

The template can be used by individuals and organisations in the assessment of their strengths and areas for development


The table below provides an overview of the responses (where the most often-selected response is shown, 1 being the ‘worst’ description and 4 being the ‘best’ description).

  Societal Organisational Individual
Policy development 4 3 3
Conversion into programmes 3 3 2
Division of work 1 3 2
Producing outputs 2 3 3
Use of outputs 2 3 3
Learning 3 3 2

A textual summary of the results is that:

  • The organisational section scores best, with the third answer being selected in all six areas;
  • In the institutional section, the worst answer is selected once and the second answer two times. Despite the best answer being selected once, it is last choice for very many respondents;
  • In the individual section, the second answer is selected three times and the third answer three times;
  • The area scoring best is policy development;
  • The area scoring worst is agreeing the division of labour between stakeholders at the various levels.

Recognising the constraints set out in the previous section, the Task Force examined the responses, including the textual responses of specific issues which hamper organisational capacity in the views of the respondents, and came to the view that the following broad conclusions could be drawn from the responses:

  • Cooperation between organisations is a weak point, with cooperation instead being suspicion in some cases, and the remits and skills of the different organisations not joined up effectively;
  • Effective working across sectors is a particular issue brought forward in the free-form comments;
  • There are skill gaps declared, particularly in the conversion of policy into programmes, the division of labour, and ensuring effective learning and development;
  • Stakeholder requirements appear insufficiently understood/ insufficiently balanced when turning to ensuring effective use of outputs;
  • There is insufficient time and effort given to learning from past experience.

The Task Force also considered a number of other publications concerning land administration policy guidelines, including those from the UN FAO (2007), AusAID (2008) and Land Equity International (2008)

Key components

From its work, the Task Force developed the following list of key components which need to be in place in a sustainable organisation, and which are often not in place:

  1. Make clear statements defining the responsibilities of each level/ sector
  2. Provide transparent leadership ‘from the top’ to encourage collaboration in both top-down and bottom-up ways
  3. Define clear roles for the different sectors, including the private sector
  4. Establish a clear organisational culture that supports a cooperative approach amongst individual employees
  5. Ensure that the network of individuals and organisations has a sufficient voice with key decision makers for land administration issues to be taken fully into account in all central policy making
  6. Facilitate policy development and implementation as a process that is open to all stakeholders, with all voices being clearly heard
  7. Provide a legal framework that enables the use of modern techniques and cross-sector working
  8. Offer relevant training courses that clearly explain, encourage and enable cooperative and action-based working by organisations, within a clearly understood framework of the roles of each level/ sector
  9. Share experiences through structured methods for learning from each others’ expertise and experiences, with this learning fed back into organisational learning

The Guide

The Guide considers each component in turn, and for each one provides:

  • Some context
  • A description
  • A vision of a sustainable organisation
  • Examples
  • Key questions

The examples are drawn from all parts of the world.

Links, reports and presentations

The core membership of the Task Force:

Iain Greenway – Chair
United Kingdom
Chief Executive of a National Mapping Agency
Santiago Borrero Mutis
Secretary General, Instituto Panamericano de Geografia e Historia (IPGH), with significant experience as a senior manager in surveying organisations in developing countries; a former chair and current Board member of the GSDI Association
Teo Chee Hai
Past President, the Institution of Surveyors Malaysia; Past Secretary General, ASEAN Federation of Land Surveying and Geomatics. Chartered & Licensed Surveyors
John Parker
Former Surveyor General; ex-Chair of Commission 1
Richard Wonnacott
South Africa
Senior Manager of a Mapping Agency
Spike Boydell
Professor of Built Enviroment, School of Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney; ex-Vice Chair of Commission 8


Mr Iain Greenway, Chair
26 Ballycrochan Avenue
BT19 7LA
E-mail iain.greenway@btinternet.com