Progress or the Status Quo? Systems-thinking and Targeted Practice in Development
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The policy space in which development happens spans the globe and innumerable contexts depending on the geographical, cultural, or normative scope of the intervention. Taking the complexity of the policy space, the agents of development and the tension between objectivity and orthodox practice and subjective contextual practice, it comes as no surprise that development features a significant degree of unpredictability in outcome. While some element of unpredictability is taken as a given in practice, I argue that theorists and practitioners should not yield so readily to the unknown. The framework presented here with which practitioners may improve upon their analytical capacities offers an introductory road-map for the types of pre-intervention research necessary to anticipate and mitigate the effects of unintended externalities. In this paper, I apply structuration theory to analyse failures in World Bank development practice. I argue that the structural configurations of recipient states constrain the potential of externally-directed development initiatives that in turn can reinforce the very institutional features of ‘underdevelopment’ that are targeted for change. Developing structural and institutional profiles of recipient states in anticipation of development activity will reduce the very prevalent risk of failed development initiatives.
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Reshem Khan (2016). Progress or the Status Quo? Systems-thinking and Targeted Practice in Development. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11104