Exploring the science of complexitySystems and complexity

Exploring the science of complexity series (part 20): Conclusions – summary

This article is part 20 of a series of articles featuring the ODI Working Paper Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts.

In this exploration of the key concepts of complexity science, we have drawn on the scientific basis of each concept, provided examples of how they have been applied in political, social and economic realms, and reflected on implications for international aid. Specific terminology may have been new to some readers, but many will have – at least partially – recognised the ideas and principles underlying them, because these resonate with many of the experiences of those working in the aid world. Some of the concepts may not seem very startling or new; others may seem more radical and challenging.

In this concluding section, we will reflect on the questions we posed at the start of our journey, namely:

  • How do the concepts of complexity science fit together?
  • What do the complexity science concepts offer to those facing international development and humanitarian problems?
  • How does complexity science differ from existing ways of understanding and interpreting problems?
  • What kinds of phenomena can complexity science help us better understand?
  • What is the value of complexity science for those engaged in humanitarian and development work? Does it tell us anything new?
  • What kinds of practical uses are there for complexity science in international aid?

We conclude with our own stance with regards to the application of complexity science in international aid work, and outline the challenges facing the take-up of these ideas across the sector.

Next part (part 21): Conclusions – How do the concepts of complexity science fit together?

Article source: Ramalingam, B., Jones, H., Reba, T., & Young, J. (2008). Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts (Vol. 285). London: ODI. (https://www.odi.org/publications/583-exploring-science-complexity-ideas-and-implications-development-and-humanitarian-efforts). Republished under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 in accordance with the Terms and conditions of the ODI website.

Header image source: qimono on PixabayPublic Domain.

Ben Ramalingam and Harry Jones with Toussaint Reba and John Young

Authors of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Working Paper "Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts".

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