How to improve systems thinking in aid: a conceptual framework for the implementation of systems thinking in development aid programming

Balan, M 2019, How to improve systems thinking in aid: a conceptual framework for the implementation of systems thinking in development aid programming, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title How to improve systems thinking in aid: a conceptual framework for the implementation of systems thinking in development aid programming
Author(s) Balan, M
Year 2019
Abstract This research is inspired by a belief that systems thinking can play a decisive role in addressing design and implementation challenges in international development aid. There is a search underway for new approaches to make aid more effective which is leading to practitioners embracing systems thinking in response to criticisms that development programmes fail to achieve beneficial impacts. There is an appetite amongst the donor community and practitioners to use systems thinking in ‘market development’ programming. However, the practice is still nascent and characterised by ambiguities and misconceptions in what systems thinking is, or does.

The research ascertains the degree to which the limited application of systems thinking in development aid is due to challenges faced by practitioners in adopting it and how these challenges could be addressed for systems thinking to be successfully applied to international aid. To study this problem, I sought the views and opinions of a variety of development practitioners, especially those working in market development programmes, as these are at the forefront of promoting systems thinking in aid. Through this endeavour, a hundred challenges were identified. By sorting and rating these challenges across six domains, a ‘conceptual framework of tactics and action’ was generated. By viewing the conceptual map from the perspective of a complex adaptive system, with domains as agents, at least 30 possible solutions to move towards effective planning and implementation of systems thinking in development aid were generated. This study offers a way forward. Equipped with the results of this research and delving deeply into the solutions, one can now embark on a more comprehensive dialogue to policy makers, practitioners, donors and implementers to plan what is needed if an authentic systems orientation is to drive and thrive in development aid.

The research concludes on the need for an institutional home: a place where action can be taken; where challenges, the six domains, and the 30 plus solutions can be taken forward; and where practice can demonstrate the benefits as well as the pitfalls of the use of systems thinking in development aid.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Subjects Social Change
Sociological Methodology and Research Methods
Keyword(s) international development
market systems
systems thinking
poverty
group concept mapping
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Created: Fri, 31 May 2019, 12:28:56 EST by Keely Chapman
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