Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World

Paperback | April 22, 2015

byBen Ramalingam

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Many agree that the foreign aid system - which today involves virtually every nation on earth - needs drastic change. But there is much conflict as to what should be done. In Aid on the Edge of Chaos, Ben Ramalingam argues that what is most needed is the creative and innovative transformationof how aid works. Foreign aid today is dominated by linear, mechanistic ideas that emerged from early twentieth century industry, and are ill-suited to the world we face today. The problems and systems aid agencies deal with on a daily basis have more in common with ecosystems than machines: they are interconnected, diverse, and dynamic; they cannot be just simply re-engineered or fixed. Outside of aid, social scientists, economists, business leaders, and policy makers have started applying innovative and scientific approaches to such problems, informed by ideas from the "new science" of complex adaptive systems. Inspired by these efforts, aid practitioners and researchers havestarted experimenting with such approaches in their own work. This book showcases the experiences, insights, and often remarkable results of innovative thinkers and practitioners who are working to bring these approaches into the mainstream of aid. From transforming child malnutrition to rethinking economic growth, from building peace to reversingdesertification, from rural Vietnam to urban Kenya, the ideas of complex systems thinking are starting to be used to make foreign aid more relevant, more appropriate, and more catalytic. Aid on the Edge of Chaos argues that such ideas and approaches should play a vital part of the transformation of aid. Aid should move from being an imperfect post-World War II global resource transfer system, to a new form of global cooperation that is truly fit for the twenty-first century.

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From the Publisher

Many agree that the foreign aid system - which today involves virtually every nation on earth - needs drastic change. But there is much conflict as to what should be done. In Aid on the Edge of Chaos, Ben Ramalingam argues that what is most needed is the creative and innovative transformationof how aid works. Foreign aid today is domi...

Ben Ramalingam is an independent researcher, consultant and writer specialising on international development and humanitarian issues. He has worked with and advised leading development and humanitarian organisations including UN bodies, NGOs, the Red Cross movement, and government agencies. He holds honorary positions at the London Sc...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:April 22, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198728247

ISBN - 13:9780198728245

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Table of Contents

Preface: Globalization, Development, and ComplexityPart 1: The way aid works1. A System to Change 'The System'?2. Thinking Inside the Box3. Strategic Mismanagement4. The Goats in the Machine5. Watching the Watchmen6. Part 1 Epilogue - The Trouble with Physics EnvyPart 2: The way the world works7. Introducing Complexity8. More Than, and Different To, The Parts9. The Madness of Men10. Falling Off Cliffs11. The Devil is in the Dynamics12. Part 2 Epilogue - What Lies Between Order and Chaos?Part 3: The way aid could work13. From Bali, with Complexity14. Systemic Learning15. Adaptive Strategies16. Networked Organizations17. Dynamic Change18. Part 3 Epilogue - Beyond Panaceas19. Aid on the Edge of Chaos

Editorial Reviews

"Breathtaking . . . catapults development thinking into the 21st century . . . read this book and be changed." --Andrew Zolli, Executive Director, Pop Tech and author of Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back