Complexity

Evidence Changes Lives: Realizing Evaluation’s Potential to Inform the Global Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication date: March 2015

Evaluation will become more necessary for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. In this publication, in 2015 the International Year of Evaluation, we seek to demonstrate how evaluation makes a difference.

The need for institutional change in capacity development of tertiary agricultural education

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Authors: Mundie Salm, Gerard Baltissen, Richard Hawkins, Jifke Sol, Ruud Ludemann, Anouka van Eerdewijk, Mariana Wongtschowski, Driek Enserink and Marlene Roefs.

Publication date: October 2014

(Breaking) The Iron Triangle of Evaluation

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Author: Reynolds, M.
Publication date: 2015

Ideas from complexity science and systems thinking are demonstrably helpful in a shift from exploring (systematic) linear net effects of an intervention towards exploring wider (systemic) effects occurring elsewhere.

But where these ideas of ‘impact’ are coupled with a narrow use of the contingency approach, some less helpful ‘triangulated’ relationships might be evident. These relationships might be regarded in terms of an ‘iron triangle’, a metaphor used frequently to exemplify pernicious relations of power.

Aiming for Utility in ‘Systems-based Evaluation’: A Research-based Framework for Practitioners

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Author: Grove, J.T.
Publication date: 2015

System dynamics modelling (SDM) was used and process researched as a case to investigate its utility as a systems-based evaluation (SBE) approach. A system dynamics (SD) model1 was developed to evaluate the potential requirements and implications on the health systems of the ambitious antiretroviral therapy scale-up strategy in Lusaka, Zambia.

Research on SDM for strategic evaluation provided insights and principles for future application of SBE.

Systems Dynamics Modelling in Industrial Development Evaluation

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Authors: Derwisch, S. & Löwe, P.
Publication date: 2015

The complexity of development processes makes it difficult to observe and interpret the impacts of policies. The authors demonstrate the use and benefits of system dynamics modelling (SDM) in impact evaluation of private sector development programmes.

Going Beyond Mixed Methods to Mixed Approaches: A Systems Perspective for Asking the Right Questions

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Authors: Garcia, J.R. & Zazueta, A.
Publication date: 2015

An impact evaluation’s primary task is to determine which impacts were caused by an intervention, distinguishing them from those produced by other causes.

However, in complex systems, interventions may contribute towards less apparent forms of impact (such as negative, unintended, indirect and secondary) that are no less significant, but which require a different way of asking questions.

Learning, Systems Concepts and Values in Evaluation: Proposal for an Exploratory Framework to Improve Coherence

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Authors: Hummelbrunner, R.
Publication date: 2015

The three core systems concepts – interrelationships, perspectives and boundaries – can be used for framing an impact evaluation (see Williams, this IDS Bulletin). But their use also has implications for the type of learning that an impact evaluation is likely to generate. Moreover, they can help to make the value base of evaluations more explicit.

Prosaic or Profound? The Adoption of Systems Ideas by Impact Evaluation

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Author: Williams, B.
Publication date: 2015

All evaluation approaches have to address questions about their legitimacy, validity, relevance and usefulness. As the complexity of interventions is more widely acknowledged, impact evaluation appears to be especially vulnerable to these challenges. This article explores the potential of the systems field to address these vulnerabilities. 

IDS Bulletin: Introduction – Towards Systemic Approaches to Evaluation and Impact

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Author: Befani, B., Ramalingam, B. & Stern, E.
Publication date: 2015

This IDS Bulletin focuses on exploring the potential of systems ideas and complexity concepts to meet the increasingly complex challenges of an increasingly ambitious development agenda.

Assessing Impact in Dynamic and Complex Environments: Systemic Action Research and Participatory Systemic Inquiry

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Author: Burns, D.
Publication date: 2014

This Centre for Development Impact Practice Paper explores the implications of complexity and systems thinking for understanding how change happens. This in turn has significant implications for impact assessment. The paper shows how a Systemic Action Research methodology can be employed for assessing impact in complex and highly dynamic environments.