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An assumed gap between relief and development assistance was widely discussed in the 1990s. Urged to "mind the gap", the multilateral aid agencies adjusted. In terms of the initial learning phase - i.e. readiness to recognize a new set of problems and adjust objectives and programs accordingly - the agencies thus responded effectively. Functional adjustment was fostered by agency concern for their organizational standing, reinforced by inter-agency competition. Attempts by two agencies to forge a structured approach and create a regime to address "the gap" was neither successful, nor did it in the end prove necessary. The case suggests that inter-agency competition rather than cooperative regime-building is the easiest way to foster certain kinds of organizational learning.

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