Author: Ben Ramalingam, Miguel Laric and John Primrose
Year: 2014
Full Citation: Ramalingam, B., Laric, M., & Primrose, J. (2014). From best practice to best fit: Understanding and navigating wicked problems in international development. London: Overseas Development Institute
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Overview: The authors maintain that international development interventions deal with ‘wicked’, complex problems but for the most part the tools available are designed for static, simple, and linear problems. Institutional reforms to deliver equitable and quality basic education in fragile, conflict-affected states fit their definition of wicked problems as “difficult to define and explain; every problem is a symptom of several other problems; it is hard to definitively prove that solutions are wrong or right; there is no clear end point for interventions; and effective interventions from other countries and contexts are of limited use.” The paper describes the findings from a series of four small-scale pilots in Nigeria and DRC using selected complex systems tools, each of which demonstrated tangible findings and resulted in significant programmatic decisions. The paper concludes that there are considerable opportunities for using these methods and tools for enhancing decision-making for development programs in the face of ‘wicked problems.’
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