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Scale, Complexity and the Representation of Theories of Change: Part II

Rick Davies


Foundational text

Because of the global scale and diversity of their work, international aid agencies face major problems when attempting to represent their plans and evaluate their achievements. In this second of two articles looking at types of change processes, the focus is on complex processes of change that include mutual influence, parallel processes and feedback loops. Four practically oriented arguments are put forward for using a network perspective to represent these processes: the broad applicability of a network framework, its scalability, the range of measurement and descriptive tools available and the multidisciplinary body of theory and research available to inform agencies’ theories of change. Networks are then contrasted with hierarchies as background metaphors, and implications are identified for the monitoring and evaluation of development projects. In this article relevant examples have been drawn from the author’s consultancy experience with development aid programmes in Bangladesh and Ghana.

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