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The dissertation reveals the complexities of expert advice in the aid context, and delineates its impact on policymaking and governance in young democracies. Drawing on considerations from the sociology of science and the theory of democracy, it challenges the technocratic approach to development promoted by the international community under today’s knowledge paradigm. With findings from six in-depth case studies carried out in South Africa and Tanzania in the fields of health, education and environment, the dissertation unveils fundamental problems pertaining to knowledge transfer through foreign experts; moreover, it shows that under certain conditions external advice puts recipient governments at risk of losing control over their own policy agendas. Based on an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, the study adds a new perspective to the academic discourse on development and foreign aid which highlights the implications of epistemic dependence on policymaking and democratic legitimacy. The empirical research it presents offers crucial insights into the operation of expert advice in development contexts that are of interest for scholars, decision-makers and practitioners involved in aid alike.