First, we need to assess whether the capacities to tackle an issue are distributed across a range of interacting players and to what extent the success of our project/programme depends on the actions of others. International development interventions often involve a range of actions implemented by a network of partners who possess or control the relevant skills and resources. For example, the management of natural resources and the maintenance of common assets such as fisheries, forests or freshwater drainage require action at a number of different levels, from communities through local government to national policy and international agreements; the outcomes at many of these levels are influenced by a range of loosely-connected stakeholders. When interventions disregard the agency of any one level they are often ineffective: for example, fish stocks have become severely depleted when local communities have lost their rights to fish in local waters1. Success in promoting policy change is a prime example of the need to collaborate, relying on forming coalitions and interacting with broad networks of actors.
Management and decision-making during implementation needs to take into account relevant knowledge, where it can be found, and how it should be connected to the intervention for effective action.
Next part (part 3.1): Tailoring management approaches to complex situations.
See also these related series:
- Exploring the science of complexity
- Planning and strategy development in the face of complexity
- Taking responsibility for complexity.
Article source: Hummelbrunner, R. and Jones, H. (2013). A guide to managing in the face of complexity. London: ODI. (https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/8662.pdf). Republished under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 in accordance with the Terms and conditions of the ODI website.
- Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ↩