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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Complexity, Adaptation, and Results

In the last of a series of three blog posts looking at the implications of complexity theory for development, Owen Barder and Ben Ramalingam look at the implications of complexity for the trend towards results-based management in development cooperation. They argue that is a common mistake to see a contradiction between recognising complexity and focusing on results: on the contrary, complexity provides a powerful reason for pursuing the results agenda, but it has to be done in ways which reflect the context. In the 2012 Kapuscinski lecture Owen argued that economic and political systems can best be thought of as complex adaptive systems, and that development should be understood as an emergent property of those systems. As explained in detail in Ben’s forthcoming book, these interactive systems are made up of adaptive actors, whose actions are a self-organised search for fitness on a shifting landscape. Systems like this undergo change in dynamic, non-linear ways; characterised by explosive surprises and tipping points as well as periods of relative stability. If development arises from the interactions of a dynamic and unpredictable system, you might draw the conclusion that it makes no sense to try to assess or measure the results of particular development interventions. That would be the wrong conclusion to reach. While the complexity of development implies a different way of thinking about evaluation, accountability and results, it also means that the ‘results agenda’ is more important than ever.

Will Donors Hide behind China?

This post was originally featured on Owen Barder’s Owen Abroad: Thoughts on Development and Beyond blog.

Will the largest aid donors hide behind China to excuse their inability to make substantial improvements in foreign aid? How can Busan balance the desire to be more universal with the pressing need for real changes in the way aid is given?

Our Short Wish List for the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

This is a joint post with Rita Perakis

Next week about 2,700 delegates from around the world will gather in Busan, Korea to talk about aid effectiveness: whether there has been progress on aid reform since previous forums in Paris and Accra, and what ‘development cooperation’ (the term for ‘aid’ coming back into vogue) should look like going forward.

Just in Time for Busan: New Measures of Aid Effectiveness

This is a joint post with Rita Perakis

Late this month representatives of donor and developing country governments, civil society organizations, think tanks, and the private sector will meet in Busan, South Korea, to review progress since the signing of the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness in 2005. Rita and I will be among them and we hope, along with many others, that the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness will mark a milestone of sorts, where the aid effectiveness movement, drawing on the consensus forged at previous meetings in Rome, Paris, and Accra, turns from words to action.

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