Big thanks to Alanna Shaikh and Bill Brieger for feedback and comments. Debates about malaria eradication in the aid blogosphere, along with recent scientific evidence, highlight the urgent need to improve our understanding of the complex dynamics of this terrible affliction and to use it to adapt ongoing eradication programmes. A nearly hopeless case? According […]

Huge thanks to Alanna Shaikh for peer review comments and edits Back in 1997, Robert Chambers argued that top-down attempts to manage complex processes of change have not worked in development aid.     …Development projects can be paralysed by overloads at their centres of control…[generating] dependency, resentment, high costs, low morale and actions which cannot be sustained’ […]

This weeks presentation is a 2009 TedMed talk by David Agus on the application of complexity science to cancer research. The talk focuses on the limitations of trying to understand cancer using reductionist thinking and how this limits potentially significant advances. Agus illustrates this dramatically, showing that since 1950, after more than half a century of […]

Today’s New York Times Review has a nice piece  on ‘making sense of complexity’ which cites the work of Brenda Zimmerman, noted complexity specialist whose work on health systems has featured on two previous Aid on the Edge posts (here and here). Here it is in full: The Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and […]

One of the biggest stories this week is that US President Barack Obama has signed a landmark healthcare bill into law – the largest expansion of the US federal social safety net since the 1960s. But work by leading healthcare analysts around the world would indicate that the safe passage of the bill is only the […]

For all ‘Aid on the Edge’ readers wanting a straightforward, clear and above all short introduction to complexity science, your wishes have been answered with a well-written 16 page primer, adapted from Brenda Zimmerman & co’s work on health systems. It doesn’t answer all complexity-related questions, but it is certainly a very useful entry point for those starting out their […]