Managing Complexity and Uncertainty In Development Policy and Practice
Root, Jones, and Wild discuss the growing need for agency policy reform to address uncertainty and complexity in the design of development interventions. They argue, "The institutions themselves must be ‘homegrown' and need to develop within their own local environments, rather than according to a particular blueprint". Exploring different theories and research on people's behavior and decision-making, they criticize a highly linear approach to reform based on "a common assumption of ‘rational choice' decision logics. They assert that "people are embedded in complex adaptive systems and that they make decisions, responding to changes in the behaviors of others around them and the larger environment." Network analysis is elaborated as a tool to examine the interactions between people, institutions, and the system, and to investigate how the change happens. They see the occurrence of change as the result of
- Combinatorial explosions where a combination of events can form new outcomes;
- "Information cascades"
- "Diversity begets diversity via ‘niche' construction and can trigger transitions".
A "theory-based approach evaluation that respects complex causality and draws on a broad range of different types of evidence" using "qualitative comparative analysis, and evaluation rubrics" and "cross case learning". A community of practice is recommended for understanding and documenting institutional reform and social change.